Monday, 31 August 2015

Life In The Garden

As the weather cools and dampens, it is tempting to assume there won't be much left to see insect-wise, but as soon as the rain pauses the Small Things reappear. Perhaps not in such great buzzing numbers as during the warmer, dryer months, but they are present none-the-less,if you have the patience to look for them.

Three species of shieldbug were roaming the garden over the weekend. The first is an instar (baby) Green Shieldbug, then a Hairy Shieldbug, 2 instar Dock Bugs and a final instar Green Shieldbug. 
The Dock Bugs have been loving the raspberries- every time I pick some I have to be careful to remove the bugs. Yesterday I managed to pick, wash, dry and very nearly freeze a tiny weeny hairy shieldbug instar who was saved at the last moment by waving his legs at me. They resemble nothing so much as very small perfectly round buttons when they're that young :o)





Earwigs can often be found inside flowers, where they hide from the sun or the rain during the day... Can you spot this one, head down, bum up?


Then there are hoverflies, still busy nectaring from the late summer blooms. This one is a common species, Helophilus pendulus, also known as The Footballer because of the stripy thorax, but more properly called the 'Dangling Marsh Lover'  (from the Greek helo: marsh, phil: love, pend: dangle or hang). They are visible all summer long from April to November right across the British Isles.


Hoverflies use a form of camo called Batesian Mimicry. This means they look like dangerous insects such as wasps in their coloration but are actually harmless themselves. They rely on the connection other creatures make with the black and yellow to keep them safe but they have no stings themselves.

Also not remotely dangerous to us but pretty unpleasant if you happen to be a moth larvae, is this rather splendid chap, an Ichneumon deliratorius.

 
They are parasites of Noctuid moths. The Noctuidae are the largest family of moths so these parasitic wasps have plenty of food to choose from. You'll find them all round the UK in any flower-rich meadow, woodland or garden. This is the second one I've seen this year, sitting on a buddleia leaf.

There are still some freshly-emerged flutters oot and aboot too. We found this brand new Comma sunbathing on a hedge yesterday while walking the dogs through some farmland. Commas have two/ three generations in a year, the final one or two of which will over-winter as adults and emerge when the warmth returns next Spring.
 
 
Incidentally, I watched a Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding on some buddleia (sadly not in our garden) on Saturday. Only the third one I have seen this summer. And no camera with me! He was there for ages beside three Small Torts, a Peacock and a Painted Lady. Not for nothing is buddleia called The Butterfly Bush :o)

Typical of this between-seasons time is the mix of summertime flowers with the fruits, berries and mushrooms more redolent of autumn that can now be found out in the countryside. 







We've been picking sporadic blackberries from the hedges whilst out on walks but have yet to go proper Blackberrying, and I keep meaning to visit Mottisfont and look for the wild plums that grow in the trees that line the lanes there. Last year there was a goodly crop which came home in some unused dog poo bags. Needs Must, eh?

L goes back to school on Fri so perhaps I'll get a chance in the next week or two, although work is piling up in preparation for college and my new job too...
Here are M and J nibbling berries from the hedges with T and P...


And here's a basket of home-grown spinach we had with a stir-fry last night, picked fresh from the garden...

 
...and some Humourous Carrots, likewise fresh from the earth and eaten raw and unpeeled (I wondered, as I was eating them, how many get thrown out before reaching the shops because they aren't dead straight and therefore acceptable to The Modern Discerning Shopper's eyes? Most of ours have come out of the earth wonky...)

 

So although things are turning there is still plenty to see and learn about outdoors. These two are a Good Example. Are they Bees, Robber Flies, Hoverflies or Bumblebee Mimics? I can't decide so if you know please shout :o)




I'll leave you with an Interested Sow who thought blackberries sounded like just the ticket for a Very Hungry Piggy...


Happy Bank Holiday Monday if you're in the UK, and a Happy Monday to you anyway if you're not.

Hope all are well?

CT :o)

22 comments:

  1. Thanks CT. We are having a rest from decorating the kitchen....a horrible job with so many corners and angles and so much to be covered up. The sun is about to shine...well maybe!

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    1. Decorating due to happen here too in the next week or so... x

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  2. Our long weekend is next weekend,it's forecast to be sunny and warm.Seeing your flutterby pics reminded me that I haven't seen a Monarch butterfly this year...not a single one.
    Jane x

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    1. It's rained here. Pretty much all day. I think I remember hearing that Monarchs are in trouble? x

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    2. Habitat destruction and pesticide use where they overwinter in Mexico has decimated numbers. We used to see huge flocks of them pass through.
      Jane x

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  3. Second one looks like a bee - check out the size of the eyes.

    As for "warmer, dryer months" my gosh,where???"""

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  4. I love shield bugs, such an amazing shape x

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  5. Hey CT,
    As I got out of my car the other, I noticed a Hummingbird moth going barmy on some valerian. I snapped away with my mobile for ages. He let me get very close, and I managed to get sone wonderful shots. He ended up with quite an audience, because some of my neighbours stopped to see what I was doung. They'd never seen one before. In fact that little patch of valerian that hangs out of the wall of our drive is attracting all sorts of flutters and bees at the moment. It must be very potent! Hope you've had a good bank holiday.
    Leanne xx

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    1. Valerian is Top Stuff for lots of flying folk. I wish I could get some for here but we are running out of space! xx

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  6. Lovely little shield bugs, there are always lots of our raspberries as well. I have a volunteer buddleia in the garden that grows right on the fence line. It's been trimmed very narrowly, but there are buds on the top so I'm hoping it will flower soon. The comma is beautiful, so perfect.

    Lots of bank holiday rain here this morning. The cricket we were going to watch was cancelled so we went to the park and played football instead. I fell over and incapacitated myself. Hobbling now with a swollen foot. Sigh. The running was going really well too. I hope you have a good week. CJ xx

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    1. Oh no- poor you. Hope it's better this morning. Have you got any arnica? It's Good Stuff for bumps and bruises (and shock). xx

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  7. My goodness, it is all going on in the insect and bug world isn't it!!! Lots of them still out and about! xx

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  8. We've seen lots of moths and bats on a couple of magical sunset walks while down here in Cornwall. We don't know what has happened to the resident barn owl though who used to nest in one of the barns. Every evening at about 8.30 we used to see her leave the barn and swoop down over the newly harvested fields. But we did see a Red Admiral on the beach yesterday (not seen many this year) and snorkelling around the rocks we saw a little colony of Oystercatchers, clearly there for the mussels. Only overnight rain and one damp morning, I think we've been very lucky!

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    1. I am envying you Cornwall. It's a few years since I've been. September is probably a great month to go- no school hols and still lovely weather. Have fun x

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  9. Great photos, I'm learning so much from your blog, its very interesting. The spinach looks great and yes, you do have to wonder about the carrots in shops 'making the grade'. I'm looking forward to picking our mulberries soon, and i still have to do something about our excess strawberries!

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    1. Thank you- that's lovely to know. I've ending up freezing a lot of fruit. It'll be lovely to have it in the middle of winter! x

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  10. Love that handsome Ichneumon wasp! Those bees look like bees, they have bee antennae but I'm not sure if they are bumbles or solitary bees. Their colouring/stripes don't look familiar, do they? And there are some solitary bees which look like bumbles, likewise the cuckoo bees which I am not sure what category they belong to, if they count as solitary bees. Complicated subject! I am picking spinach and rude carrots too. Don't you just love those carrots. :-) Great pics. xx

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    1. I think they're bees too, but really struggling to ID them. More rude carrots here today :o) xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x