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Hazelnuts, Holly, Ichneumon Fly, Larva

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Hazelnuts Holly Ichneumon Fly

These Hazelnuts have been eaten by dormice, leaving the hard outer shell. Hazelnuts are produced by the Hazel bush in order that it can reproduce.  The nut is contained in a hard shell which starts out very small and green during the Spring but grows in size and ripens to brown during the early Autumn.  Animals such as mice and squirrels eat the nuts and squirrels and Jays  will often store some in the ground for eating when other food is hard to come by.  However some will inevitably be forgotten and if in a suitable place may germinate and grow into a new hazel bush.  Hazel relies on animals like squirrels to distribute its nuts so that new plants can grow in a different location.

Seed dispersal by animals

More about dormice

Tree gallery - Hazel

Young Holly trees in Winter.   In Britain, Holly is a familiar evergreen species, having green prickly leaves throughout the year.  During the Winter its bright red berries are an important source of food to many resident and migrant birds such as thrushes and starlings.  In return, the seeds within the berries are distributed widely by the birds as they fly around and pass them in their droppings.  Holly trees can grow up to 27 metres in height but are more often seen as shorter bushes providing understudy in oak and beech woods.  Each tree is either male or female, both sexes produce small white flowers during May but only female trees will go on to produce berries.  The flowers rely on insects to carry the pollen from the male to the female flowers so that seeds and berries can be produced.  The flowers are eaten by the caterpillar of the Holly Blue butterfly.

Tree Gallery - Holly

Despite its striking  appearance, the Ichneumon fly above is harmless to man.  There are many species of Ichneumon flies, some of which look superficially like wasps, in fact  the species above is known as a Sabre Wasp.   The adult feeds on nectar and the  sticky honeydew secretion from aphids.  The sharp long black spike at the rear of this female's abdomen is not a sting but an ovipositor, stored in a protective sheath and used to lay her eggs.  She is using her antennae to feel the wood for vibrations caused by Wood Wasp larvae deep within the wood.  When she locates a larva she probes her ovipositor through the wood and places an egg on the surface of the larva.  When it hatches it will eat the wood wasp larva.






The larva of a woodland invertebrate. Many species of invertebrate (animals with no backbone) spend the first part of their lives as a larva, an intermediate stage between egg and adult.  Very often the larva looks completely different to the adult and behaves in a different way as well.  They often live in a different habitat to the adult and eat different foods, so that there is less competition for survival within the population.  An example is the larva of the wood wasp, which is a legless grub that lives inside wood in  a forest.  The adult is completely different in appearance and behaviour with legs and wings enabling it to feed differently and mate, occupying a habitat around the timber rather than in it.


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All images copyright Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust