When you are out and about with your little ones, you can be forgiven for focussing your attention on birds and mammals, but take a moment to widen your view to include insects, spiders, and some of the other living things and your explorations will be instantly more exciting. I promise!
Take the fearsome looking Bee to the left, for example. He (or she) is a fly (a Bee Fly, actually). In spite of his rather menacing 'stinger' poking out of the front of his head, he is totally harmless.. ..to us!
In fact, he and his band of friends are responsible for a large amount of pollination in our flowers, meaning that our trees and plants can bear fruit to set seed for a future generation.
If, however, you were a Mining Bee, you might not be so keen on the Bee Fly. The Bee Fly is known to flick it's eggs into the little tunnels that the Mining Bee digs for it's babies (larvae). The Bee Fly larvae hatch first, and feed on the Mining Bee babies before emerging as adults.
You see? It's not all fur and feathers!
So, next time you are out and about with your little ones, don't be afraid to turn over some stones, or look into the deep grass to try to find some of the smaller stuff that crawls or slithers around in our gardens and parks. It's fascinating stuff.
Take a look at my little girl in this picture to the left. She's got a Millipede in her hand and she watched this tiny little creature for quite a while, before I reminded her that it probably had a job to do, and that she had better put it back in the garden so it could be on it's way!
The beautiful insect to the right is a German Wasp - a Queen, too (I think). I accidentally disturbed her from her hibernation spot in my shed, so I carefully moved her outside before carrying on my work. She's a big wasp; much bigger than our Common Wasp. Nevertheless, she was quite placid and I encouraged my daughter to get a bit closer to her to get a better look. I'm really keen to get my little girl confident with some of the bugs and critters that folk will try to convince her are to be feared, and even worse - squashed! She asked lots of questions about the wasp, some of which I couldn't answer, so we looked it up in our books and on the internet. We never stop learning, together!
I hope this post encourages you to like a few of the less obvious creatures that live around us. If you do get out and find some good insects, why not comment below? Or better still, post some picture on the British Wildlife Tales Facebook Page - www.facebook.com/tbatbotg