What to look out for in your garden - early June

Female Southern hawker by Jane Adams

As the days lengthen, more and more insects are appearing but some, such as butterflies, may also be conspicuous in their absence. From flying leaves to dragons in your shrubs, here are a few things to spot in your garden in early June.

Where are all the butterflies?

After the initial joy of seeing Brimstones, Holly blues and Commas in our spring gardens, it can feel as if our butterflies have completely disappeared in June. I don’t think I’ve seen one flit across the garden for at least a week. Butterfly recorders call this time of year the ‘June Gap’ but luckily nothing disastrous has happened, it’s all down to the life cycle of our common butterflies.

Some species have two broods. These butterflies will have emerged in the spring, laid eggs and died but their caterpillars and pupae will be tucked away on foliage ready to emerge in the height of summer.

Others, such as Meadow browns and Gatekeepers, who only have one brood a year, are yet to emerge. So we are left in this no-man’s-land of June butterfly emptiness - but don’t worry it’s just a blip, they will return!

Meadow brown in garden © Katie Wilkinson

Meadow brown in garden © Katie Wilkinson 

Who's eating my rose bush?

If you have a bee nesting box (sometimes called a bee hotel) you may have noticed it’s gone a bit quiet. The Red mason bees who use these nesting boxes in the spring have mostly finished their mud-lined nests and now that their work is done these industrious adult bees will die. The next generation will feed on the pollen and nectar left for them in the nest cells, ready to emerge next spring. 

But you might see a different species of wild bee this month as the leaf cutter bees start to emerge. I first notice the females when they are feeding as they hold their tails up higher than other bees and hurriedly twizzle round in circles, collecting pollen on the hairs under their abdomen rather than on their legs. They’re best known for their habit of cutting leaves - roses are a favourite - to line the cells of their nests. So if you see a disc of leaf flying through the air there might be a leaf cutter bee attached to it.

Female Leaf cutter bee

Female Leaf cutter bee © Jane Adams

Dragons perching on your shrubs? 

Don’t be surprised if you come face to face with a large totally harmless dragonfly - like this Southern hawker - in your garden this month. Many species of dragonfly travel long distances looking for their insect prey, often perching like a bird on branches before pouncing on a tasty fly.

You don’t need a pond or water in your garden to see one (although this will increase your chances - and can help a myriad of other animals) but you will need a garden full of insects - even more reason to plant some pollinator friendly plants and get your Dorset garden buzzing. 

Female Southern hawker

Female Southern hawker by Jane Adams