Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Foggie-toddlers - revised repeat!

Having had some small success introducing the word 'fwing' as a term for describing plant growth, and in widening use of the name 'cow mumble' for cow parsley, I thought I'd try again with one more word I'd love to get into more general use.

I posted this last year, and SomeBeans and I now always use the term to refer to the little creatures. So, in attempt to get the term more widely used (and through blatant copying and pasting of a previous post of mine), I introduce to you the foggie-toddler.

"What a great name. Apparently, this is a Scottish name for bumblebees. According to SomeBeans, all bumblebees have the same first name, which is Delius. Why bees would have first names, and if so, why it would be Delius, he is a little hazy about.

Actually, it was only today that he realised that there were different species of bumblebee - until I suggested this, he thought that the different colourations were due to genetic variations similar to those causing different hair colour in humans. He is now in a bit of an existential quandary as to whether different species of bumblebees have different first names. Furthermore, we have been having an ongoing 'discussion' for many years as to whether bumblebees live in nests in burrows or in thick vegetation (my suggestion) or in chalets. Presumably something like this .

The National History Museum has an interactive British bumblebee key which I've been having fun playing with today. Of course, you need to make sure you're not trying to identify a mimic such as the bumblebee hoverfly instead. Hoverflies can generally be distinguished from the insects they mimic by the false wing edge vein (one of the few things I remember from my zoology degree).

Apparently, bumblebees are not doing too well in the UK at the moment, with three species already extinct according to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. There's a lot we can do to help, by practicing bumblebee friendly gardening. It seems that they like a more 'relaxed'" style of gardening (very much in the ethos of the Inelegant Gardener). The favorite plants of the foggie-toddlers in our garden are the cardoons, which seethe with the insects in summer, but they seem to like pretty much any flower, including dahlias, snapdragons, sedum, and echinacea.

All of the bumblebees in the UK belong to the genus Bombus, (meaning 'booming') although cuckoo bumblebees used to be classified in a separate genus, Psithyrus (meaning 'murmuring'). They have an interesting lifecycle, with workers on average only living for four weeks. Their behaviour is quite complex, with communication by pheremones, which are used to pass on information, including marking which flowers have been visited, so that other bumbles can avoid them.

So, say "Hello, Delius" to the next foggie-toddler you see, and do what you can to help them.

This has been a public information announcement on behalf of the Foggie-toddlers Admiration Society."

9 comments:

Martyn Cox said...

Foggie-toddler is great. I used to have a friend who called wasps, jaspers.

SomeBeans said...

Jaspers was certainly in use for wasps when I was a child...

LittleGreenFingers said...

For some reason I thought you were writing a post about slightly confused pre-schoolers. I stand corrected and am now looking for any excuse to use both foggie-toddler and jasper in everyday conversation.

Victoria said...

I think jasper is a similar word to or a corruption of guĂȘpe (French for wasp). The gaelic for wasp is gasbaid. Just thought I'd share that with you.

Joanne said...

I was very pleased to see many foggy toddlers buzzing around my Geranium Magnificum today while I attacked yet more ground elder and bind weed.

Gail said...

We've just been calling them bumbles and hope they aren't offended! Would Victoria add a pronunciation key for
gasbaid...I am having too much fun imagining how one actually pronounces it! gail

Nutty Gnome said...

I love foggie-toddler and will start using it! It's also nice to be reminded about jaspers ......I'd completely forgotten that one :)

The foggie-toddlers were very busy on the ceanothus, the heathers and the wild thyme yesterday - not much is out and about today, it's WAY too wet!

Victoria said...

Hi, Gail, I think it's pronounced gas-bahd. But I'm not an expert. My father used to sing with the Stirling Gaelic Choir, which is the only reason I know anything about it at all. You might also be interested to know that the original Gaelic alphabet has only 18 letters, all of which are named after trees. A is ailm, or elm; B is beith, or birch; C is coll or calltuinn (hazel) and so on. Isn't that cool? You can find the full list on Wiki at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Gaelic_alphabet

HappyMouffetard said...

Thanks, Victoria, for raising the normally low tone of the blog with such interesting info!

Foggie-toddlers rule OK.