Sunday, 18 June 2017

What Might Be In Your Garden...?

Thanks for all your kind messages of commiseration yesterday. M ran the race and returned home saying it had been absolutely boiling. He still managed to come in the top ten out of 500 :o). In hindsight it was probably a good thing I had to miss it. The thermometer has read 29 degrees here- it's even hot indoors. I am starting to feel better so hope to be back running this week and to have bagged my first competitive HM before too long.

In its place, I spent the day prowling round the garden, camera in hand, recording what I could find. None of the following are rare species in the UK, so if you live here and want to learn more about our wildlife the best way to do it is to go and sit near some flowers or a patch of vegetation with a camera and record what you see. Some of these are bound to be in your gardens. My favourite guide book is 'A comprehensive guide to the insects of Britain and Ireland' by Paul Brock - it has everything in it you could possibly want.

Here are today's offerings...

1. White plume moth in the greenhouse. Plume moths are widespread and usually look like small crosses made of brown sticks. The white plume is well-named!


2. Ladybird larvae, this is a Harlequin, looking for somewhere to pupate into the more recognisable adult ladybird. Check under nettle leaves and also among potato plants and clematis for them. The other species of ladybird look similar in the larval state, only smaller and with a variety of colour markings. They all look like miniature monsters however!


3. Hummingbird Hawkmoths have amazing memories, which means once they've clocked a favourite plant they'll be back. Ours has been visiting the valerian and nepeta most days since I first saw him last week.


4. This one took some investigating. It's a plant or capsid bug, similar to Miris striatus. There are lots of them in the long grass around the pond today. Behaviour-wise they are busy souls, lots of moving about and flitting between grass stems.


5. Another one that took me a while to find. This is Rhopalus subrufus, a scentless plant bug. They are known for their curiously shaped antennae, and they eat fruit and seeds. This one is associated with St John's-worts, although here they were mating on nepeta. They look a little like an elongated shield bug and were glowing copper in the sun.


6. Small magpie moth. There are loads of these little moths at the top of the garden, where they like to hide under leaves of potato, delphinium and nettle. Their larvae feed on common nettle and the adult moths are easily disturbed from under leaves from May right through to September.


7. It is something of a rarity for me to see a Small Tortoiseshell these days. These once ubiquitous butterflies have suffered severe population declines in recent years. They pepper the memories of my childhood so I was thrilled not only to have one in the garden, but to watch her laying eggs beneath a ragged old nettle leaf. If you enlarge the photo you'll see she is actually laying an egg.


8. And here are the eggs, the most beautiful, fresh, lime and emerald colours, perfectly round circles, neatly laid in two batches. I will be watching for the caterpillars.


9. A lot of people mistake hoverflies for wasps and bees. These harmless creatures have no sting and get their name from their flight behaviour- wasps and bees don't hover. They also have big eyes, so once you know what to look for it's hard to mistake them for anything else. There are hundreds of species of hoverfly. This one is Syrphus ribesii, a common and widespread hoverfly.



10. And here is one of my favourite insects: he's a wool carder bee, and he is fiercely territorial, so much so that I've been watching him chasing far bigger bees (including bumbles) off the flowers that he wanted. He does behave a little like a hoverfly and so this is one species of bee you might mistake, but his shape and markings are unique so once you get those you won't confuse him again.

The second photo shows the diagnostic series of yellow dots down the side of his body. This is typical of wool carder bees, who are named for their habit of stripping soft down off vegetation. You'll see them visiting flowers from May to September.



It's amazing what you can find in a garden if you take the time to look. Sometimes all it takes it patience, and the willingness to sit in a quiet corner for ten minutes, allow your eyes to relax into Wild Time and you'll find they pick out the small things that most of the time, you just don't notice.

Yesterday, movement that was different caught my eye in the goat willow beside the lake as the dusk was coming down. It was a baby Green Woodpecker, something I've never seen before. I sometimes feel once you've seen something once you become connected to it, because I saw him again this morning, on the owl tree, sitting quietly as if uncertain what to do next. There are also two baby GSWs who come into the garden. I had thought it was only one but they were there together yesterday. It's been a good spring for woodpeckers.

Hope you've all had a nice, peaceful, happy weekend,

CT.

29 comments:

  1. Your photographs today really are exceptional.

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  2. Brilliant photos. I was just looking at a magpie moth on the raspberries and wondering what he was. I see all sorts of things when I'm out there picking and watering and things. Nice to be able to identify one, thank you! I hope you're feeling completely better very soon. CJ xx

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    1. Brilliant! Raspberry canes seem to be beloved of a great many insects xx

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  3. What a wonderful post! You're inspiring me to sit in my own tiny terrace garden, which I know does host a number of insects despite being five storeys up. . .
    And I'm delighted to discover the Hummingbird Hawkmoth, realising that this must be what we saw, 20-something years ago, hiking in the Massif Central in France -- We first thought we'd seen a hummingbird, but our French friends just laughed at us, and of course we quickly recalled that there are no such birds in Europe. A closer look did establish that we were seeing a moth of some sort, with an amazingly long proboscis and the ability to hover, humming-bird-like. Can't wait to show this to my husband. Thank you!

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    1. Fantastic! I remember the first time a hummingbird hawk moth visited us here- I jumped about like a mad thing grinning wildly. They are fabulous insects. I'd love to know what you find in your garden.

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  4. Thanks for that, I must get outside and see what pops into the garden. Great idea to take photos for identification later. x

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    1. It's much easier as they often scoot off quickly so that way you can take your time to id them! X

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  5. Great photos! I love hover flies especially and could sit for hours watching them just, well, hover! The Plume moth is quite spooky if you come across it in the twilight as I find they have a luminosity about them in certain light. As to the ladybird larvae, well, first time I saw those I thought the aliens had landed. lol
    Glad you felt well enough to trundle around the garden, and sounds as if you did the wise thing by not running in that heat.

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    1. You're right about the plume- I found one glowing on the nepeta a couple of nights ago. And ladybird larvae are extraordinary things.

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  6. An amazing collection in your garden. I need to sit still too and wait. My problem is I'm rather like a butterfly, flitting around! Valerian is a wonderful plant. Always think of it as a weed but I should get some for my garden. Glad you are feeling better. Hopefully the weather will be a little cooler for your HM. Enjoy the sunshine while we have it. B x

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    1. Yes, patience is the key, and stillness. All sorts of things appear when you're still. Red valerian- top plant for insects and so pretty too x

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  7. Beautiful photos! Inspiration for me to look more closely in my garden!
    Well done M - great result!
    Get better soon and happy summer days! 🌞☀️

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    1. I'd love to know what's in your garden and how different it might be to ours, all those miles away. Happy winter days to you! Xx

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  8. Beautiful offerings and lovely photos. Thanks for sharing and have a nice week.

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  9. I always love it when I learn something and I always learn something here .You'd think ,since I am such a nature nut, that I would know that was a lady bug larva …but I never knew what they were . So excited to know what those little buggeroos are now !

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    1. I only discovered what ladybird larvae were a few years back. They're so unlikely! Nice to see you, Willow x

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  10. These photos in your garden are so lovely. I have been recuperating with rotator cuff pain. Nice to see you and hope you are feeling better.

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    1. I was thinking about you the other day wondering how you were. That sounds painful. Hope you're ok now?

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  11. Good decision not to do the race. I'm reading How to Run by Paula Radcliffe. Some excellent tips in there.

    Amazing photos. Well done!

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  12. Great selection of insects in your garden, I love getting Hoverfies to land on my finger sadly we don't seem to get as many as we did. Good news the garden is full of bees though.
    Love the photos..
    Amanda xx

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    1. Great to hear about the bees. I've just discovered what I think is a rare longhorn beetle in our garden. Going to email the recorders and check. Exciting! Hope all's well xx

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  13. There are wonderful examples of wildlife to see in your garden. I need to copy both you and Barbara and go out into my garden and observe. Sarah x

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    1. Thanks Sarah, you should definitely do that - I'd love to see what you find x

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  14. Such an interesting and informative post. Made me realise how little I know about our wildlife!

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    1. Thanks Gina, hopefully I've inspired you to go and see what you can find :o)

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  15. Hummingbird hawkmoth and ladybird larvae - tick.

    Today from the corner of my eye I saw a scatter of grey brown cascading into the garden. A large flock of tiny waxbills happily eating the sedge seeds. Lipstick red beaks like jewels.

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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