On Saturday 06th July, the Biodiversity Gardens team headed down to the Mayfield Lavender Festival in Banstead to run a Minibeast Hunt for children. The team was really excited to see the beautiful purple-carpeted fields of lavender up-close, and get a peek into what goes on inside the farm. Every year, Mayfield Lavender opens their fields to the public for this festival, where people can simply stroll around the fields, enjoy some lavender tea, purchase all kinds of lavender soaps, oil burners and decorative displays, or simply lie back and enjoy a lavender massage.
It was amazing to see how many people attended the festival, with many claiming to be regular-goers. There was a real sense of community spirit about, and you could really tell that the local people enjoyed having this thriving business nearby. I couldn’t help but get fully immersed in the lavender spirit, drinking on some lavender tea, lavender lemonade and purchasing a lavender pot and diffuser for my home.
The Minibeast Hunt was a success with lots of children signing up for their chance to collect some minibeasts from the lavender fields. Children bought back a range of snails, spiders, flies, beetles and bugs.  One great find of the day was a female nursery web spider Pisaura mirablis with her egg sac attached to her jaws. This species is rather interesting, as during mating, the male will present the female with a wrapped insect as a kind of ‘nuptial gift’ to distract the female whilst he mates with her.
There was also an extra incentive for children to collect rosemary beetles, which are a major pest of lavender. Rosemary beetles are not native to the UK and were first discovered here in the late 1990’s, and are now widespread in Southeast England. Despite their bad points, they make quite an attractive little beetle, with a metallic green sheen and reddish-purple stripes, resembling an exotic-flavoured humbug!  Mayfield lavender pride themselves in being an organic farm, therefore removing the beetles without the use of pesticides is the most environmentally-friendly way and made great fun for children as they explored the lavender fields.
Our next Minibeast Hunt will take place at our annual Bioblitz event on Friday 02nd & 03rd August at the Sutton Ecology Centre. Join us for a whole range of nature activities including a bat walk and moth trapping on Friday evening and walks, talks and pond dipping on Saturday. It is totally FREE to attend and suitable for everyone. For more details, visit events.

Robin Searle
Biodiversity Assistant

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