a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Weeding – tricked again


Weeding is not my favourite tasks but it can have its moments.  It can be exciting as long as you have a low stimulation threshold. I find the length of time spent weeding is directly proportional to the size of stimulation required to trigger an interest in a different direction.  In other words, I find myself easily distracted by a newly germinating plant (weed?), a bee, the smell of coffee brewing in the distance but yesterday it was different.

It was exciting.

While clearing a border in the front garden a bright blue creature appeared.

I had never seen anything like it before so I rushed to get my camera, sure that it would have disappeared when I returned.  It was still there.  Definitely more interesting than weeding!

I have very little knowledge about insects but I felt I would have to do my best to record and identify it.

It could be a rare endangered species.

So I set about my self-appointed task of documenting its progress across the front of the house.  This required me lying in strange positions on the grass but luckily I live in a very quiet neighbourhood and I do not think anyone saw me, or else they have not liked to mention it.

I reckoned I had taken enough photographs to identify it or post it on a web site and plead for  an identification.

I managed to identify it myself.  It is not an endangered species and I found out about some of its rather nasty habits.  It is Meloe violaceus.

The females can lay up to 4,000 eggs in a hole in the ground, usually in April and May, and may lay more than one batch of eggs.  What hatches out of these eggs are called triungulins and these are capable of producing a pheromone which mimics the sex attractant of a bee.  They climb up flowers such as dandelions and wait for a passing bee.  The confused male bee will attempt to mate with the triungulins which promptly hitch a ride on the bee’s abdomen and are subsequently passed onto a female bee.  The triungulin now gains access to the bee’s nest by hanging on to the female bee. They then use a similar strategy as the cuckoo.  They enter a nest cell and consume the bee’s egg and mature into a larva using the honey stored inside the nest cell.  The larva can pass the winter in the comfort of the bees nest to appear in its adult form in the spring.

I’ve been fooled again (see my blog “I love thee, I love thee not”).  I try to attract the bees to my garden but I am just finding out what they are up against, it is not just about finding food.  Meloe violaceus parasitizes solitary bees in particular, that means my beloved bumble bees.

Maybe I should have just stood on it and forgotten about the camera.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

4 thoughts on “Weeding – tricked again

  1. That is one evil looking bug hiding our in your pansies


  2. Love your blog, thats a fair wee beastie you got there !!


  3. Bet you don’t get those in Turriff!


  4. I am gonna take a new tack on weeding…… I am going to do less weeding and more planting and try to out compete the weeds. This way I might actually get something out of the garden other than weeds.


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