It was the metallic sheen of the large, green beetle that first caught my eye. Looking closer at the wide umbel of creamy white flowers I noticed several small, slim, brown beetles and half a dozen tiny moths. While the moths were drinking nectar the beetles were all feeding on pollen and it looked as though the big green beetle was munching up bits of petal as well. All the insects – nectar feeders and pollen feeders alike – were liberally dusted with pollen which they were carrying from flower to flower as they fed. The flowers produce plenty to spare.
(Click on the photo for a closer look)
This hogweed head had only attracted one species of insect, an eye-catching, red-striped shield bug with red spotted underparts. There are three in this picture with one nearly hidden behind the flowers. Shield bugs have piercing mouthparts that allow them to suck sap direct from plant stems but these seemed to be enjoying easily available nectar instead. Like the beetles these bugs were dusted with pollen, aiding pollination as they made their way from flower to flower. Every little helps.
I’ve discovered that the green beetle was a rose chafer beetle, Cetonia aurata (not to be confused with the North American beetle that shares the same English name). Identifying features are the triangular scutellum between the wing cases and the irregular, wavy white lines on its back. The red striped shield bugs, sometimes known as harlequin bugs, are Graphosoma lineatum, unlikely to be confused with anything except a closely related Mediterranean species which has less stripes and more spots.