Gold-fringed Mason Bee

Gold-fringed Mason Bee
Gold-fringed Mason Bee

Out on the Beach Reserve last week with my knapsack I noticed several bees busily moving from flower to flower of ivy-leaved toadflax near Ternery Pool. On closer examination I realised they were all gold-fringed mason bee (Osmia aurulenta), a very attractive little beast with golden hairs on the thorax and fringing the abdomen (hence the name) which is most typical of coastal habitats such as sand dunes and shingle beaches but also occurs inland on chalk grassland and brownfield sites. Interestingly I also had one of this species nest parasites, white-spotted sapyga (Sapyga quinquepunctata, see here), one of only four records for the reserve. The sapyga lays its eggs in the nest of its host, the larva eating the larva of the Osmia and then eating the stored food supply!

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I also had the first record of whelk jumping spider (Pellenes tripunctatus, above) for the year, with an adult male at the western end of Ternery Pool. For several years after its discovery at Rye Harbour in 2011 it was only ever found at the extreme eastern end of the reserve near the Gooder's Hide, but in the last few years most records have come from further west, so it's good to see that it appears to be spreading. The English name comes from the habit of using whelk shells to hide their egg sacs and to overwinter in, though its likely that many similar objects, such as the dead stems of various plants, can also be used for this purpose.

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