Today I took advantage of a break in the rainy weather and went out to pull shotweed. The Sarcococca and white forsythia (Abeliophyllum distichum) were perfuming the damp air. Both shrubs had a barely perceptible cloud of tiny flies about their branches. The flies, too, were enjoying the bit of sun, nectar and perhaps pollen. Even in the winter there are insects out foraging, looking for that rare flower to feed upon.
The ‘Jelena’ witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) that I had planted a few years back in honor of our dear departed kitty Hazel is in full bloom. A spider had laced a web amongst the bare twigs in hopes of getting a winter meal. Small gnats darted about as did one of the most common pollinators in my garden, the syrphid fly. The syrphid is often taken for a bee due to it’s gold and black patterned abdomen. However, it’s large eyes and short, stubby antennae give it away as a fly.
The syrphid was drinking from the burgundy flowers of the witch hazel, pausing long enough for me to snap a photo. It might have also visited the heath, hellebores or violets that are blooming elsewhere in the garden. There isn’t much up yet, but every little bit counts for the pollinators in winter.
©Colleen Miko, 2015