There's been a fair bit in the news today about the massive affect that the weather seems to have had on some insects. The main spcies in the headlines is the Honey Bees, already badly decimated by Colony Collapse Disorder. The weather hasn't actually killed honey bees, but in very bad weather they are unable to get out and forage and therefore the production of honey has been greatly reduced. Bad news if like me you like honey and in my case it is an important ingredient of the bread I make.
On plant that does attract all sorts of insects is Buddleia, sometimes known as the butterfly bush. It isn't one plant, it is a genus of over 100 species of plants. The name of the genus was given by Linnaeus to honour the Reverend Adam Buddle, a botanist and rector from Essex. There are native species of Buddleia in Asia, Africa and North and South America, but not Europe or Austalasia.
We've got a few Buddleias round the garden. Most have the normal candle type flowers that vary from a deep purple to a pale lilac. These probably come from Buddleia davidi (name after the missionary, and famous botanist and zoologist, Armand David, who brought the plant to Europe from China).
The deep coloured plants seem to attract the most butterflies, especially Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells, though so far this year no Peacocks or Painted Ladies have arrived on them.
There are also yellow species, some with candle flowers and some with "pom-pom" type blooms. These seem particularly good for bees, bumble-bees and hoverflies.
This Buff-tailed Bumblebee is covered in pollen and it demonstrates one of the worrying aspects of the decline of bee numbers. One of the most famous quotes about this was supposed to have come from Albert Einstein. “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!” He wasn’t an entomologist, and he almost certainly didn't say this! but entomologists around today agree that the sudden and mysterious disappearance of bees from their hives poses serious problems!