Monday, 26 August 2013

Hedgerow Harvest And The Return Of Moths

I've been keeping an eye on some wild plum trees that grow near here and yesterday the lane was yellow with squished fallen plums. Luckily there were plenty of unsquished ones on the verge, so we collected them up and carried them home in a Teddy Poo Bag (necessity being the mother of invention and us being out on a walk anyway. It was an unused poo bag, I hasten to add), along with a few red ones.

The girls have been laying well recently (although Mave stopped laying her blue eggs while we were on holiday, which I found rather endearing. It's her nerves you see. She'll doubtless settle down now I am home again and start laying again before long) so I decided to make individual custard and plum cinnamon tartlets (homemade custard too and a completely experimental made-up recipe, I hope you are impressed). They went down a storm, which was a relief.

The harvest, both mechanical on a grand scale and hedgerow on a smaller and more artisan scale, is well and truly underway now. While out blackberrying this afternoon near the deliciously-named Owl Cottage (which incidentally has a marvellous damson tree that overhangs the path, although they are not quite ready to start falling just yet) we came across this ABSOLUTELY ENORMOUS combine working in the fields. The dust it was kicking up was phenomenal.

It was slightly incongruous when compared against our old ice cream tubs and pair of hands methodology, but we enjoyed it and came home with a goodly crop (1.9kg), even if it was a bit hot for Ted and L got bored...


There was an elusive Speckled Wood who kept landing in the hedgerow then flitting off as soon as I got the camera focused. Eventually I managed to get him feeding on a blackberry...

Talking of flying people, I put the Moth Box out last night for the first time in what seemed like ages, and was rewarded with several new species which have now taken my moth total for 2013 to 280 individual moth species. Butterflies currently stand at 24 so with the two together I have now reached over my target of 300 lepidoptera species for 2013. I would still like to get to 300 moths and there is probably still time.

Here are a selection.


 Black Arches

Splendid feathers on the Black Arches

Common White Wave

Feathered Gothic
(a new species for me and a very beautiful moth I think)

Maiden's Blush
(Beautifully named, a very delicate-looking moth. This one is perfect so must be fairly newly emerged)

White Point
(new for me)

Silver Y

Peach Blossom
(one of my favourites- I absolutely love the delicate blush of pink in the spots)

Peach Blossom with wings open

Sharp-Angled Peacock
(again, a perfect specimen so probably newly-emerged)

A quick Hornet Warning at this stage - for anyone who isn't a fan (Denise and Lou in particular) LOOK AWAY NOW! These SIX were dead in the bottom of the trap, I think they have been comprehensively mothed, judging by the amount of moth dust covering them...

As a sort-of connected aside, poor F has just trodden on a wasp who was Very Cross Indeed to be trodden on and promptly got his revenge by sticking his sting into F's nude foot. I've never heard F swear before, or seen him jump quite so high and fast, but it turns out he does know how to do both quite well. Anyway, I had to check because I can never remember, so for those of you who also need reminding, wasp stings are alkaline, so you neutralise them with acid in the form of vinegar or lemon juice. Bees (who are usually far too nice to sting anyone anyway) have acid stings so require bicarb of soda to ease the stung area.
L is convinced that the hornets above were bumped off by the Moth Bureau of Investigation (M.B.I) and has suggested we report F's wasp to them so they can take care of it for him.

Also in the trap was this rather charming Forest Shield Bug who was very friendly and spent ages walking over my hand...

  And this adorable Nut Weevil. I am particularly fond of Nut Weevils. I love their expressions. Little cutey-pie.

We have had two births today, both successful, although typically I missed the actual moment of emergence from the pupa and only realised when a brand new shiny butterfly flew in front of my nose and landed on the window and I wondered where it had come from. A search of the box revealed two papery and decidedly empty pupas. I'll post the pictures tomorrow, along with the 50 or so Large White pupas which are still sitting quietly waiting for their moment in the caterpillar box. 
Poor M has no brassicas left whatsoever, so I think he is being a Particularly Nice Husband to ooh and ahh over the newly hatched flutterby people when I call him over to admire them, rather than gnash his teeth and shake his fists and issue dire warnings of impending butterfly doom, which I rather think he is within his rights to do, given how much he loves growing veg. I am trying to help by removing as many caterpillars as I can from what is left of the cabbage. This is quite a time consuming job, especially as the small and green veined varieties are demons at camouflage and look a great deal like stalks....

Wishing you all a good evening,

CT :-)


  1. With luck, my moth from the other night will return, so I can compare it against the picture.
    The blackbirds are feasting on my blackberries. Must get out there tomorrow and steal some back.

    1. I know- how funny one should turn up here the following day.

      Hopefully you have plenty of bb's to go around- the harvest is abundant here this year. M makes a wicked blackberry ice cream, I'll post the recipe, assuming he's happy to share his secret! :-)

  2. The tartlets and fruit all look delicious. I'm looking forward to blackberrying here. Lovely Teddy looks very hot and pleased with himself, too! And the wasps have really got going here - my wasp traps around the beehives are full of them.

    1. I find wasps unnecessarily aggressive. I know they have their place in the Great Nature Pantheon, but on the whole I'm not their biggest fan. Did you happen to see the prog on swarms the other night? The chap presenting got himself covered with bees. The land crabs were pretty amazing too.

  3. I'm glad I had eaten my lunch before reading this post CT-full of delicious food and then you mentioned the blackberry ice-cream yummy! Lovely moths, the Black Arches and the Peach Blossom are amazing creatures, but I agree your lovely moth Maidens Blush is very delicate.
    I think M is being terrific about the emerging butterflies and his brassicas...and I'm not just saying that in the hope he divulges his blackberry ice-cream recipe :)

    1. I have his permission to reproduce it here so will attempt to do that this week (goes down a treat at dinner parties).
      It was lovely to have the moths back again- I missed them while we were away :-)

  4. Homemade icecream is THE BEST! I can't understand why people buy it. Some of the cheapy, economy versions are disgusting and bear no resemblance to ice-cream at all. I think the older I grow the more picky I am about food. Awaiting blackberry icecream recipe with much agogness!

    1. I had to buy carte dor t'other day as M likes them for sandwich boxes (the previous ones having become pretty grotty after over-usage), and now L refuses to eat the original sainburies cheapo vanilla variety!

  5. 300 different moths and butterflies that is quite an achievement! We also find unused poo bags useful especially at this time of year! We haven't seen that many ripe blackberries year what a huge picking.
    I keep meaning to ask you how have you been getting on with your homemade shampoo? I was reading some tips
    Sarah x

    1. The shampoo worked but was a bit messy and time consuming so I've returned to Faith in Nature. The deodorant seemed to work for a month and then didn't, so now I'm using a shop bought one that is synthetic-free and works, although it is pricey.

      Poo bags are a great invention for harvesting wild food! :-)

  6. Those tarts look delicious :) Looking forward to going blackberrying here too :)
    You have a great total of moths seen this year - far more than I have ever trapped!!! The Peach Blossom is a real beauty :)
    Lots of wasps here too - was going to put out a rotting apple to try and attract butterflies but now not so sure its a good idea. Hornet in the garden too this morning.

    1. Wasps are a menace at this time of year aren't they? Our apples fallen from the tree are full of them.

      I think it's going to be a good blackberry year. I'm thinking of making bramble jelly as we have a juicer to de-pip them.

      I love the Peach Blossom moth. Most of the moths looked so fresh and perfect I guess they are new generations. I'll miss them all when winter comes. Thanks so much for introducing me to The Wonderful World Of Moths. I will always be grateful :-)

  7. Fabulous moth people!! Still not a fan of hornets or their smaller but just as terrifying waspy cousins! Mum, Bracken and I went on a blackberry picking mission and mum made blackeberry and apple crumble... yum!! Those custard tarts look AMAZING!! I shall have to tell mum to have a go at something similar (because I am no baker yet)!

    1. The custard bit is from Delia's online trifle recipe if she wants to give it a go (it's dead simple) :-)


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