Thursday, 8 March 2018

Cheshire’s Wild Mothers

Mallard and ducklings

With Mother’s Day approaching, Cheshire Wildlife Trust have put together this interesting list of wildlife mothers.

Hedgehog mothers


Hedgehogs awake from their over-winter hibernation in spring. Those that are two years of age or over will mate anytime between April and September. The males attempt to woo females by performing a song and dance, circling her with rhythmic snorting and puffing. When ready, females will flatten their body and spines to allow mating to occur ‘as smoothly’ as possible.

After roughly one month, the mother will give birth to four – five live hoglets in an underground nest. As mammals, the mother will feed the hoglets milk. At around three – four weeks, the family will leave the nest together for foraging trips and after a week or so of these family excursions, the young hedgehogs will wander off on their own.

Parent bug mothers

Parent bug

As the name suggest, parent bug mothers do parenting a little differently to other groups of shield bugs. Males and females hibernate over winter and emerge in the spring, feeding on alder and birch trees.  Once she has mated with a male, she lays her eggs in a tight cluster on the underside of a birch leaf. The mother broods her clutch, sitting protectively over the eggs until they hatch.

Parent bugs use bacteria from the sap of the birch tree to help with their digestion. To give her children a helping hand, she covers her eggs in the bacteria so that when they eat their way out of the egg, they already have the required bacteria.
The mother stays with her family until August when the young finally become adults.

Bumblebee mothers


Social bumblebee queens hibernate underground over autumn and winter. When temperatures rise in spring, she emerges and feeds on nectar to regain energy. Feeling back to herself, she then selects a nesting site and ‘stocks the cupboards’ with pollen and nectar.

Fertilised eggs are laid and hatch into female worker bees who take over the maintenance of the nest, as well as gathering pollen and nectar and looking after their siblings.

During the end of the season, the queen will stop producing female workers and start laying unfertilised eggs which turn into males. After she has laid the male eggs, the queen again lays fertilised eggs which develop into queens. The colony stops working together so harmoniously and the males and queens leave the nest to mate with others. The new queens go into hibernation underground to start the cycle again.

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