Looks like a bee, but it’s not a bee!

July 15th 2017

We spotted this beautiful insect near Rhicarn on 13 July 2017 and at first glance thought it was some sort of Carder bee, having no idea what it was we contacted Stephen Moran, our insect specialist in Inverness. Stephen was delighted to inform us that it was a Bee beetle Trichius fasciatus. Beetles should(!) always be recognized as not bees by the presence of elytra, the hardened forewings, which protect the actual flying wings whereas bees have two pairs of thin, translucent wings, all of which are used in flight.

As its common name suggests this is a beetle that mimics bees, but why do that? Well, it’s a bit like a sheep in wolves’ clothing and is known as Batesian mimicry, which simply means something harmless is imitating something dangerous. In this case a harmless beetle is trying to tell a potential predator that it’s a bee with a dangerous sting and so it should be left well alone.

This particular species is a scarab beetle and its larvae develop in rotting birch stumps. It is also a bit of a Celtic specialist with the vast majority of records coming from Wales and the Scottish Highlands.

This is the second record ever of this Bee beetle species in Assynt and, by coincidence, the Highland Biological Recording Group (HBRG) has asked its members to look out for it over the summer; so far this is only the second report from the Highland recording area.

D and A Haines

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Recent Sightings

Goldfinch

c20 birds on garden trees, Drumbeg (Nancy Millar) (17/01)

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Two separate reports of birds using peanut and fat ball feeders in gardens at almost opposite ends of Assynt. Single bird on peanut feeder, Elphin (Rosie Christmas) Single bird on fat ball feeder, Culkein Drumbeg (Carol Langford) (17/01)

Goldcrest

Single bird foraging under garden feeders, Torbreck (Jack Wright) (14/01)

Dipper

Three birds on River Inver opposite Little Assynt Tree Nursery (DAH). At least one of these birds was singing. (12/01)

Goldeneye

Pair of birds, Loch Assynt, opposite Bad nam Carbad. (Ian Evans and Gwen Richards) (12/01)

Otter

Two animals observed playing and feeding for c.20 minutes, Loch Inver (Dave McBain) (12/01)

Goldcrest

Two birds foraging on the ground, Culag Woods (DAH) (12/01)

Treecreeper

Single bird foraging, Culag Woods (DAH) (12/01)

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