This year’s Wychwood Forest Fair took place on Sunday 22 August at Foxburrow Wood, Witney. If it’s a nice day, which it was, it’s always a colourful and entertaining event. As usual, the Club had a stall alongside other conservation and natural history groups. This year we included a ‘quiz’ to engage members of the public….
The quiz consisted of eight things you might see on a walk or in your garden – could people identify them? Although a bit too difficult, it attracted quite a lot of interest. Kids liked it but only one or two people managed to identify all eight.
One of our items was a Robin’s Pincushion, a gall caused by a wasp and commonly found on roses. It was in a sealed plastic bag and in the afternoon we noticed that there was a tiny – a millimetre or two long – insect in the bag. We thought it might be one of the next generation of wasps having emerged from the gall. By coincidence the Oxford Natural History Museum had a stall with a collection of bees, ruby tails, wasps and hornets, and a helpful young entomologist confirmed that it probably was a gall wasp, although precise ID was difficult.
Another tiny beast had emerged by Monday morning. The blown-up photo below shows clearly that it was a wasp, albeit tiny but much like the pictures in the books of the wasps that cause Robin’s Pincushions. (It was later released!)
The specimens on the Natural History Museum’s stall were absolutely fascinating, ranging from thumb-sized violet carpenter bees down to some no larger than a full stop! Immodestly, we also earned some ‘bragging rights’ because the two of us who did their quiz – to sort five bees from five bee mimics – both got four out of five of them right. So we are learning – and that’s what it’s all about!