Monday, 29 July 2013

Froglets, Mothlets and Spiderlets: a Time of Wild Children

I've been keeping a close eye on the moth eggs I found on one of the egg boxes inside the moth box last week, but they still managed to take me by surprise yesterday morning by hatching out much more quickly than I'd anticipated. Here they are- very teeny weeny moth caterpillars...

The single biggest problem they face is that I don't know which moth laid them and therefore finding the correct food plant for them is going to be a challenge. Moths tend to eat trees and shrubs such as ash, poplar, willow and rose, but many are plant-specific and will only feed on one or two types of plant material. The best I can do for them therefore is put as many of these native food sources as I can find in the box with them and hope one of them is the right one. Even so I have to say I am not overly hopeful for their survival. 

A second batch of moth children arrived last night, hatching out on the wall in the breakfast room above the window which just shows how tiny their eggs are- I hadn't even known they were there! These ones have very small sharp hairs all over them, but I'm none the wiser as to species.

All our moth children are now in a big plastic container together (moved there very carefully with cocktail sticks because they are too tiny to handle with your fingers without damaging them) and they have everything from ash to hawthorn to fuchsia and rose in the pot with them. All I can do now is cross my fingers, wait and see if any survive, and look for holes on the plants as a clue to what, if anything, they are eating.

 It was whilst I was hunting food plants for the moth children yesterday that I found an extremely tiny baby frog on the lane outside the house. Concerned he would be squished by a passing car I scooped him up (gently) and carried him back to the house (in no small amount of excitement I can tell you) where M took lots of pictures. 

Denise (at the marvellous Much Malarkey Manor) had made me Very Jealous Indeed earlier this month with her tiny frog, but it's Alright Now because I have one of my very own. Isn't he sweet? A perfect miniature froglet.

I put him up by the pond where there is shelter, water and food in the form of grubs and insects so hopefully he will be OK and grow into a Large Frog. We do get froglets in the garden from time to time so I'm on more confident ground with him.

While collecting willow for the moth children I discovered these extraordinary eggs under one of the willow leaves. Stupidly, I brushed the accompanying very small spider away thinking they were moth eggs and she may be damaging them, only to discover after doing some research on their very distinctive shape that they were in fact spider eggs and she had been busy laying them! I felt terrible. Stupid Interfering Human. I was very cross with myself.

They are amazing things aren't they? And about twice the size of their mum, which is why I didn't put two and two together sooner.

 You can see the female spider, of genus Paidiscura pallens, on top of the egg on the left.

As with the Moth Children, as I am responsible for moving these eggs from their tree I will now look after them and see if we can hatch them out and return them to the wild safely. Even though I am generally Not At All Keen On Spiders, these ones are tiny so I reckon I can just about cope, plus I owe them. I've also rescued some Large White butterfly eggs from M's cabbages (well, from M really) which we have waiting to hatch in another tub. Hopefully they won't contain parasitic wasps as has happened before. 

It is a Time of Wild Children it seems.

Some other things going on in the garden include....

Cape Gooseberries Growing Well
(even if it does look like a hot air balloon. Don't let that fool you- you'd be in terrible trouble if you tried sailing off into the sunset underneath one of these. You'd last approximately 0.000005 points of a second before crashing)

M's Colourful Sunflowers Bedeck The Front Wall Cheerfully

Borage Blooms Beneath The Sunflowers In A Very Blue Sort Of Way

 The Cinnabar Moth Children Are Now Officially FAT, bordering on OBESE

Because They Have Done THIS To All The Ragwort
(never mind pulling the stuff up by hand- all you need are some Very Hungry Indeed Cinnabar moth children and the job's done)

More Sunflowers Are On The Way
(this one, rather endearingly and appropriately, is called "Teddy." Which is the plant name by species, not a name I have Christened it with. I know I can be silly but I've not quite reached the level of giving individual plants people-type names- yet)

We've had some rain at long last...

Which refreshed everything (and washed the patio furniture so I don't have to. Thanks Rain :-)

The Plants had a wash too, and then turned their raindrops into show-off type jewels...

Hedge Rose

(wish the camera could capture smells- this one is beautiful and washes over you whenever you're near it.)

Wild Sweet Peas

Hollyhock (fab colour)

Having had Trouble With Butterflies at the start of the year, it seems that ever since getting fed up with my total and utter failure to photograph them and heading off to the Tropical Butterfly House, out Native Species have been flocking round me like no man's business, as if to prove that they are every bit as beautiful as their Fancier Foreign Cousins. 
This Green Veined White was Sitting In The Greenhouse last night and was Pretty Amenable To Photographs, although not Remotely Amenable To Rescue, as I discovered to my cost when I tried to free her. I suspect this was because she was having far too much of a laugh watching me getting Wrapped Up In Squash Tendrils and Falling Into Tomato Plants as I tried to reach her. Has anyone else been Viciously Attacked by the Extremely Sharp Hairs on these plants this year?

And then today, whilst out walking with my lovely friend Mrs Massey and my lovely son L, and our lovely dogs Teddy and Oscar in Ampfield Woods, we saw these beautiful butterflies which are New For Me. Apologies for slightly dodgy pic quality, it was taken on my mobile, because how could I walk past and not get a picture?

Silver Washed Fritillary (male) on Common Fleabane

And then, the Most Remarkable Sight I have yet seen in terms of butterfly behaviour. A Green Veined White inside a squash flower.

You can just make her out deep inside the cup of the flower

I wonder if she was the same one from last night? She was there such a long time I almost started to get worried about her, but I've just checked and she's gone now, so All Is Well.

Right, I'm off to bring the washing in, sweep the floor of Cleo's room which looks like it's been carpeted with a Unique And Interesting Mixture of white fur, bird seeds, broken up Ted biscuits, bits of thread, tissues that have accidentally been through the wash and the odd ancient sock to a depth of several inches, but in reality is just covered in cat hair and Other General Utility Room Detritus because I've done no housework in it for several months; after that I have to clean up Teddy's watery sick which he's kindly left on his rug at my feet, collect the eggs from the hen house before the rats get them, heave L off the computer and forcibly eject him into the garden for some sunlight, and, oh, probably a thousand other jobs that need doing...

Till next time, enjoy whatever you are doing and have a pleasant evening all.

CT :-)


  1. I am thrilled you have your own teeny tiny froglet now! Andy and I went for a walk in the park yesterday morning and there were teeny tiny froglets all over the place, and also in my friend's lawn because she has a pond, so no sun bathing on the grass for her! I declare 2013 'Year of the Teeny Tiny Froglet' because they are clearly thriving tres bonne!

    I shall not, however, be following the path of Mothy Motherhood. I fear I would squish the Mothy babies like bugs...oh, they are bugs...well, you know what I mean.

    Thank you for sharing re: Teddy's sick!

    1. You're very wise to resist mothy motherhood- I have spent the past two nights dreaming there were caterpillars hanging off the duvet by silky threads and waking in a cold sweat fearful that I'd squashed them.

      I though the Teddy sick was a nice touch at tea time :-)

  2. HI CT well this was very interesting knowing you collect these tiny eggs and I am not surprised you are dreaming they are hanging of your duvet!!!! I will be watching your post with interest to see if any of them hatch. I love the shots of the butterfly in the squash flower. Love the Hollyhock and Hedge Rose. Excellent.

    1. Really hoping the moth children survive but won't be surprised if they don't :-(

      Have higher hopes for the spider and cabbage white children because I know what they are and what they like to eat :-)

      Hoping to stop dreaming about caterpillars on the duvet tonight because all this broken sleep worrying about them is exhausting me!!

      Glad you enjoyed pics :-)

  3. You sounds so busy rescuing and looking after all the little babies that you have found.
    The flowers in your garden look beautiful with the rain drops on them. We saw a Silver Washed Fritillary but it moved before I could capture it!
    Sarah x

    1. It's a full time job here at the mo but luckily my family are used to me!!

      The rain has refreshed everything and washed away all the dust so it's all looking very sparkly indeed.

      Ahhh, the fritillaries- beautiful creatures, but so hard to photograph! :-)

  4. Well done for capturing more butterflies. The wind here is now blowing them away from me. I have high hopes for my Marjoram flowers, which attracted quite a few last year but, knowing my luck, they'll go elsewhere.....sigh.

    1. D'you know, it was blowing a hoolie on the down on Sunday when we saw all those Blues, so all might not be lost with you yet. I shall send you a dollop of the Positive Butterfly Karma I seem to have in abundance at present :-)

  5. I have never seen such a small frog! Really beautiful! I would have saved him too! I am amazed what you found in your garden and in your moth box! Your flowers are wonderful - you are living in such a great place! I know you enjoy it and I am glad that you share it with us! Christa

    1. Hello my friend :-)

      Well, you know I always love looking at your beautiful balcony pictures so I am very glad you enjoy the pics of our home too :-)

      That frog was ADORABLE and I'm so pleased I got the opportunity to see him and to be able to share him with everyone here too. Nature is amazing and never ceases to amaze me in turn.

  6. The responsibility is tremendous...and ruining your sleep! I hope they survive. Lovely little froglet, and I love the hedge rose bud image. Well done for spotting the butterfly in the squash flower-it's quite a beautiful image as I think she looks very peaceful and safe in there, maybe she was sheltering from the rain.

    1. I know you understand that feeling of responsibility for looking after all the small things in your garden because we've talked of it together before. If the mothlets die I will feel very bad and very responsible, but that is the way of things I suppose and as M says, there will be more being laid even as we speak, which will be some comfort. Still, I'd love to see them grow into adult moths.

      The butterfly was inside the greenhouse in the squash plant but did look very much as if she was resting. It was hot outside so maybe it was shelter from the sun rather than the rain. Also, the head of the flower was down there and I did wonder if she was getting the nectar? Never seen them do that before. Another magical experience. Nature is treating me well at the moment :-)

      BTW- I know I've already said so on your post, but your pics today really were fabulous- very well done for getting them

  7. Good luck with the moth children - it will be great seeing them grow if you hit on the right food plant!! I've had eggs before in pots but they've never hatched and I have felt rather guilty :(

    You have some beautiful plants in your garden :) and the baby froglet is really rather cute :)

    1. You and I put moth boxes out because we love the moths, so I completely share that feeling of guilt over the babies. Just keeping all my fingers and toes crossed. They are definitely two different caterpillar types so hoping at least one sort find a food they like.

      Glad you enjoyed the froglet- totally adorable! :-)

  8. The froglet is gorgeous. I hope all goes well with the growing moths, it will be fascinating to identify them from the munched leaves! Well done for grabbing a pic of the Silver Washed Fritillary and I love the Green Veined White in the squash flower. The rain drops on the flowers are beautiful.

    1. Young creatures are always so special. There were loads of fritillaries in the woods so I'm hoping to go back with the decent camera over the weekend and get better pics as there may have been more than one species :-)

  9. Such a teeny tiny froglet! I am very envious! Great initiative to give the moth children all possible food sources! I have faith that you will succeed in causing them to grow into teenagers and then adults! I've nearly caught up yippee!

    1. I love tiny frogs: there is just something about them. The first batch of moth children look to have perished sadly, but so far the second ones are still alive. I dreamt of them in the duvet AGAIN last night and woke to find myself on the very edge of the bed with the duvet carefully folded over M - this moth children raising business is exhausting!!

      Very well done with all your catching up on blogs- I am v impressed x

    2. Oh dear! It does seem that moths are taking over your life 24/7 :) thanks, it has taken a while but it is worth it, because I'd hate to miss such amusing posts filled with lots of wonderful photos!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them. CT.