Nature spotters are all abuzz about a rare bee-fly spotted in Stroud’s wildflower meadow at Wallbridge.
Paul Sergeant, Ecotricity’s online community manager, was on his regular lunchtime “safari” when he spotted the Downland Bee-fly.
The Downland bee-fly (Villa cingulata) belongs to the family Bombyliidae, many of which resemble bees in appearance and behaviour.
This mimicry is a clever form of self-protection against predators that have learned to avoid the sting of true bees. It is believed to be reliant on caterpillars of the Noctuid moth to complete its lifecycle.
It has only been recorded a handful of times in previous decades and was even thought to be extinct.
“I was a very excited amateur entomologist when I spotted it in the Wallbridge wildflower area,” said Paul.
“The following day, we found quite a few more, including one in the wildflower area outside Ecotricity’s headquarters. It seems we have a burgeoning population in Stroud”
“Ecotricity recently started a joint campaign with Buglife: www.pollinatorpromise.co.uk – one of the ‘promises’ is to encourage local councils to do more for pollinators. We think Stroud Town Council are already doing a brilliant job with their Green Spaces.”
Stroud Town Council’s Green Space team planted the area with wildflowers last year.
Last year, hundreds of Stroud Fringe Festival goers unknowingly helped trample meadow wildflower seeds at Wallbridge.
Now the area is awash with wildflowers including oxeye daisies, common figworts, knapweed, shepherd’s purse, sorrel, white campion and yarrow.
Many of the species were there naturally and have flourished since the Green Spaces team has stopped strimming to allow them to grow.
“The Downland bee-fly is one of the great species recovery stories of modern times and the way it is spreading along Stroud’s mini wildlife corridor underlines the importance of getting fully behind developing the national B-lines infrastructure as only via this interlinked habitat will similar species be able to spread back into their original habitats,” said Paul Hetherington, Director of Communications at Buglife.