Why are some young leaves red?

Mark Cocker’s Country diary piece in the Guardian this week, 1 June 2021 (‘the most seductive shade of green‘) got me thinking about leaves, trees and colours. As Mark reminded us, leaves look green because chlorophyll molecules absorb the red end of the visible light spectrum in photosynthesis, and the unused green light is reflected. Counterintuitively perhaps, they are green…

Insect antennae V.

This blog is dedicated to Andreas Kay (1963–2019), a remarkable biologist and natural history photographer, some of whose photographs I have included below. I never met Andreas, but like many people, I followed him on Facebook and marvelled at his photographs documenting the diversity of life in Ecuador.  He generously shared over 28,000 of his…

Insect antennae II.

Adult insects rely on their antennae to detect odours (smells!) which tell them all about what’s happening in their neighbourhood. Whether there is anything to eat nearby; whether there are any members of the opposite sex looking for a partner; who else is about, and so on. They wave their wonderful wands around and pick…

Just a bunch of weeds? Birds and bees on the slopes of the Futurist site, Scarborough

This site was created following the demolition of the old Futurist theatre on Scarborough seafront.  Demolition of the building began in June 2018 and was completed in August 2018. A process called ‘slope stabilisation’ created an area of sloping ground (below) which, in this year of lockdown, has filled up with wild flowers. Some might…