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February - A short recap

Valentines Day was an odd day this year. I started the day by taking a walk in the morning for a change, to take in the bright, contrasting rays of the winter sun. To my pleasure I saw that the snowdrops right next to our front door had been growing quiet well and they'd soon bloom. But today their buds would still stay closed. Or at least that's what I thought. See, apparently the weather was REALLY in the mood for Valentines Day and thought it could play along by making it particularly warm today. A good 14°C degree for sure. So as I came back sweating in my winter clothes, going back to work without taking a second glance at the flowers, not even a mere 2 hours later I stepped back into the garden to be greeted by an OCEAN of blooming snowdrops. And with them, the first hungry visitors.

I was completely baffled.


HOW DID THEY FIND THE SNOWDROPS SO QUICKLY?? I couldn't even identify what exactly was flying over the snowdrops. I forgot my glasses. Yes I wear glasses. Some might be surprised because I very rarely post pictures of myself wearing them. I still could tell the insect had stripes, similar to a honey bee, but its flight was too fast and hectic to be that of a bee. Quickly I ran up the stairs into our flat to get my glasses and camera. And then all down the stairs into the cellar to get the extra-large seat cushion of our garden bench. Crouching on the cushion on the cold garden floor, I dipped my head into snowdrops and waited.

A Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax)

Whelp, not even a minute later, my suspicion was proven right! What was flying right in front of me, was in fact some kind of Hoverfly! These little buzzers get often mistaken for bees, which is VERY well intended. Their mimicry saves them from getting eaten, adapting the stripes of bees and wasps, which serves as a warning signal to predators that these insects can very well defend themselves with their poisonous stings.

But unlike Wasps, Hoverflys are completely harmless. They don't have stings or are in any way poisonous. But the animals had learned: Bright colors in my meal are a no-no, so the clever Hoverflys could safely rest between the Snowdrops. Which they barely did, because Hoverflys are still Flys and the Fly needs to fly, no matter what. What hectic fellas they are. This little guy was a Dronefly (Eristalis tenax) by the way, and they were the only visitors that day, besides of two other tiny flys.

A Honey Bee eagerly drinking up nectar on a Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

But then came the next day. And the Honey Bees had arrived. My heart melted at the early view of my little friends. Seeing them flying next to the Hoverflys, the strong difference between their faces was incredibly prominent. Not only with their eyes, but also with their more careful approach, flying at a slower pace to the next flower and excitedly dipping their heads into the pollen - with everything they did, these insects sparked joy and beamed with personality and far more intelligence than the Flys did. It was incredibly fascinating to watch just how different these insects were. Though I dont mean to insult the intelligence of the Hoverflies, because who knows how much more is going on in their brain? Let's just say with their more hectic life style they couldn't hold my attention as long as the bees did, but I know they do a just as important job in pollinating the flowers as the bees do. We NEED this diversity. Every insect does their part, heck, some flowers solely depend on the pollination of a very specific insect and vice versa.

But while I enjoyed the unusual warm day and being able to take photos of the also blooming crocus in the brightest sunshine, a feeling of unsettledness was lingering in my body. A certainty, that became more and more prominent as the day went on. This wasn't normal. The incredibly high temperature. Maybe a regular heat in spring, on a sunny day in May. But this was the 15th of February. Winter. Not only would the heat awaken flowers like spring snowflakes 3 weeks earlier than anticipated, but insects became active far earlier as well. Knowing the weather patterns of March, it would become colder again and they'd all freeze. And later hatching insects, who depend on certain flowers for their survival, might go empty handed when said flowers bloom too early through the strong change in temperatures.

This isn't right. This is an unfolding catastrophe in an incredibly delicate ecosystem. And we need to act now, before summers as unbearably hot as last year become the norm and our ecosystem collapses.

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