|Huge grains of pine pollen cover everything for awhile in April.|
The Lynnhaven watershed occupies a fortunate location where extremes of weather are rare and generally short, and flora and fauna of all varieties can count on the same conditions month in and month out, nearly every year. However, those species which emerge at the spring seasonal margin must be hardy in order to survive April’s weather fluctuations. The earliest-emerging native bees, for instance, have fur coats, reserves of stored energy and live in protective shelters. But generally speaking, by April, nature starts opening the grocery store and the wild rush of seasonal shopping gets under way.
|Delicate shadbush (or Serviceberry) blossoms provide brief sustenance for pollinators such as hover flies.|
Of course all this activity depends on the food web and that web has as its foundation the emerging stems, leaves and flowers of native plants. With rare exception, native pollinators are not attracted to non-native species.
|Though non-native, dandelions sustain a variety of insects during the chilly months, especially in suburban areas. Here we see a pollen-laden Andrena mining-bee moving to another blossom.|
|The beautiful blossoms of the Eastern Redbud attract bumblebees and other pollinators.|
Some of these individuals, notably the mining bees, will spend only 6 to 8 weeks as free-roaming, working adults. Others, like the large and durable carpenter, have relatively long lives lasting for months. Collectively, these are the animals that show up when the weather is often bad, the work is difficult and life is dangerous. You have to be tough and resourceful to be an April insect.
|Among the many dangers pollinators face is the presence of predators, such as this assassin bug seen here on a Common Sweetleaf bud.|
Guest writer: Robert Brown, LRNow Stewardship and Access Committee