It’s summer time here in the UK and the weather has been getting warmer and sunnier. There are lots of insects buzzing around the garden and some of them have even flown into the house. My 2-year-old thinks they are all bees but most of them are actually flies. But there are lots of different species of yellow and black stripy buzzing things around at this time of year, so how can you tell them apart?
Bees have yellow and black stripes on their bodies and bristly front legs. Their tails are a different colour to the rest of their body – blonde, red, brown or white. There are 250 different species of bee in the UK, and the Bumblebees Conservation Trust has a handy bee-spotters guide to help you identify them. Bees are very important animals because they pollinate wildflowers and crops. Check out my earlier post on why flowers are pretty colours to find out more about how plants reproduce.
Wasps also have yellow and black stripes on their bodies. They have a narrow waist and they don’t have bristly front legs, so their body shape looks different to that of a bee. Some types of wasp help to pollinate flowers and crops, and they play an important role in helping to control insect pests, so their role in nature is very different to that of a bee. You can find out more about wasps here.
There are also some types of fly that have yellow and black stripes. The hoverfly is one that we often see in our garden. They are useful pollinators and they help with pest control.
So, the next time you see a black and yellow buzzy creature, why not (carefully!) take a closer look and see if you can work out what kind of insect it is?
And if you want to find out more about insects, check out the Royal Entomological Society website. It has a section called what’s that insect? which links that give lots of information about all kinds of insect species.