At breakfast this morning I happened to glance out of the window and notice a caterpillar walking slowly up the Wisteria. It is a caterpillar of a Vapourer Moth, which is odd because I have never seen the moth before. Female Vapourers are peculiar in that they don't have much in the way of wings and therefore remain more or less where they hatch, laying their eggs on the cocoon.
An Incredible Person I think you'll agree. Moth caterpillars are more interesting to look at than butterfly ones (on the whole). Talking of which, our Selection Box Of Whites are all growing well. Indeed, they are getting through cabbage at a ridiculous rate, and decimate a leaf virtually before your very eyes...
This is apart from the handful who have, as predicted, turned out to be harbouring parasitic wasps. Best to look away if you are of a delicate nature as the next pic is a rather graphic one of the wasp larvae bursting out of the live caterpillar. Eeewwwww! They take the living caterpillar over, controlling it's movements until they are ready to hatch out, and then the poor pillar person dies.
I checked the box this morning and discovered our first chrysalis, which is exciting. Several of the pillars are heading up onto the sides of the box and some are Sitting Very Still, which is the start of turning themselves into a chrysalis, so I'm hoping to get some pics of the in-between stages because it's fascinating to see. In fact I don't think this one has been all that long since he turned from caterpillar into pupa as you can still see the spots, so I suspect this is a Large White in the making. Once one goes they all start to turn, so it shouldn't be long before the box is full of butterflies.
Talking of chrysalises, I also spotted one hidden among the grasses of Magdalen Hill when we went in search of Painted Ladies (migrant butterflies) at the weekend. We didn't see any Ladies but I was pleased with the chrysalis. I wondered whether it was a moth, but I think on balance a butterfly is more likely as the moths tend to spin silk cocoons around the pupa whereas butterflies have these hardened shells of the chrysalis instead.
Magdalen also yielded this Rather Interesting Owl Pellet (they seem to be a bit like buses for me at the mo- haven't seen one in months and then two come along in the space of a week). I suspect this is also a Tawny, and presumably the colour is down to blackberries.
We've been rather Blessed With Wildlife in recent weeks. For example, I've seen more crickets this year than any other. This rather smart chap was sitting on the bathroom wall over the weekend. Tiny Body, Enormous Legs.
And of course there are also My Moths, whose numbers seem to have peaked if the last few nights are anything to go by. No new species at all for the first time last night, and I was hoping to get to 300 this year! Oh well, they are still a Joy To Behold regardless.
M and I took a walk around a section of the Mottisfont Estate this morning, having jettisoned the boys to a friend's house and a field for metal detecting respectively. I was over-joyed to find two small blue butterflies flitting among the grasses. I managed to get close enough to take some pics and I think they are Common Blues. Just Beautiful. I find them totally magical and am still smiling about it. Such dainty little things.
A little further on, near the wheat field, there was also a Fritillary, this one I think is a High Brown, although I find Fritillaries very hard to ID so if anyone knows different please shout! These two today have taken my Butterfly Count for the year so far to 22, out of the 59 native species in the UK plus a few migrants. So I'm not doing too badly for butterflies either.
I was rather taken with the beautiful bright yellow of this flower, which I think is Cat's Ear, or possibly a Hawkbit of some variety. I love the rectangular petals.
Finally, I'll leave you with a Common Blue resting on some ripe wheat.
Have a good day all.