At the moment our back garden is not very tranquil we have approximately 16 young Starlings and their parents visiting throughout the day, I can’t believe how much noise they make. They are very demanding and very naïve as are most of the birds that are newly fledged from nests or bird boxes. It is a very critical time for birds and their chicks, this warm weather really helps as it brings with it new hatchings of insects and caterpillars, perfect food for young birds, but a cold and wet spell can really affect the young and parent bird’s survival.
I put bird food out every morning on the lawn and on the bird table, I am sure they must watch me through the kitchen window, waiting for me to come out, they are all very hungry, as soon as I’ve turned my back they are tucking in. The young Starlings (which look bigger than their parents) make me laugh they sit on the lawn surrounded by food and wait for their parents to feed them, which they dutifully do. The young birds are fascinated by the pond they keep climbing on the metal grid that we have over it, wobbling and falling in, they manage to get out quite easily though. The pond provides water for drinking and bathing which is very important especially during the warm weather if you haven’t a pond consider putting out a bird bath/water dish.
In the evening, and a moment of calm after the birds had gone to bed, we were sat out in the garden when some large insects flew over they were ‘May Bugs’ also called Cockchafer Beetles or Melolontha melolontha. They are not a true bug but a large beetle and the largest species of Chafer Beetle in the UK. They are more commonly found in the South and appear on warm evenings from May to July, and are attracted to artificial light often coming indoors through open windows. ‘May Bugs’ may look a bit scary but they are harmless to humans. They are about 3cm in length with short feelers on their black head and a hairy body, with non hairy reddish-brown wing cases. The complete life-cycle from egg to adult takes about 3-4 years.
The grubs are considered a pest feeding underground on roots and they can destroy pastures and crops, you may have come across some of the grubs whilst digging, I have on my allotment and they are pretty horrible to look at. The grubs are ‘C’ shaped, have six legs and are white with reddish-brown heads, they hatch from eggs in about 5-6 weeks and can grow to 4 cm they will live for 3 years and then turn into a pupae and remain underground over winter to emerge as adult beetles the next year. The beetles only live for about a month but will mate and lay their eggs underground on roots before they die. The grubs are favourite food for Rooks, Crows and Gulls and the beetles are eaten by Owls and Bats.
Keep looking out for ’May Bugs’ we found this one on the road; it was probably hit by a car.
Love your Environment (not sure about the ‘May Bug’ grubs!)