Sunday 8 January 2012: Reed seeds...
Another grey old day, occupied by re-stocking the depleted cupboards and trying to encourage Alex to do some work before he returns to college tomorrow! I took the dogs out for a walk after lunch, but the only thing that really caught my attention were these reed seeds, which looks so soft and fluffy at the moment.
Common reed is a very important component in the habitats around us - the river valleys and fens. Many people are aware of the birds associated with reedbeds, including rarities such as bittern and bearded reedling, but fewer are aware of how important reed is for insects. Five British Red Data Book invertebrates are closely associated with reedbeds including Reed Leopard moth and a rove beetle. In East Anglia, more than 700 species of invertebrate have been recorded from reedbeds, 23 of them Red Data Book.
Forty species of insects are known to feed only on reed, with a further 24 insects feeding partly on reed during their life cycle. A wide range of invertebrates are also associated with reed even if they do not feed directly on it. These include predators (mainly beetles and spiders) and parasites of the reed-feeding invertebrates which live in the stems, including gall-forming flies and solitary wasps.
A while ago I wrote about the value of oak for insects, which is also very high. This then brought to mind one of Aesop's fables about a reed and an oak, urging us not to rely on strength in life, a philosophy I've tended to adopt, especially in family affairs.
A reed got into an argument with an oak tree. The oak tree marvelled at her own strength, boasting that she could stand her own in a battle against the winds. Meanwhile, she condemned the reed for being weak, since he was naturally inclined to yield to every breeze. The wind then began to blow very fiercely. The oak tree was torn up by her roots and toppled over, while the reed was left bent but unharmed.
Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs.