"Ahh, this is the life. Relaxing in the sun on my wall. And no sign of that bloody dog anywhere to spoil things..."
"What's that you say? He's over there?"
"If I lie here very, very still, she won't even notice me, but I'll keep an eye open, just in case there's a Chasing Opportunity..."
"Ha! Take that, dog! Look how fierce my fangs are. Very Fierce Cat Indeed. Not A Cat To Be Messed With. Or Chased. At All."
"Oh there she goes again. But I can't be bothered to chase her now, think I'll just go back to sleep."
"Ha! That worked. The bugger's gone back to sleep. There is No Doubt About Who's In Charge Around Here."
I did my Butterfly count yesterday which revealed different butterfly activity in the front and back gardens. The back had brimstones, gatekeepers and a peacock...
Male Brimstone on Corn Cockle
Male Brimstone on Everlasting Sweet Pea
And the front (where the bigger veg patch containing the cabbages is located) had Large and Small Whites, and a Comma sunning himself on the tree leaves.
Small White on Common Fleabane
Comma on Indian Bean Tree Leaf
The Butterfly Count runs till Aug 11th so there is still time for you to take part if you want to, and you can do it as many times as you like. It's been interesting to do a few (they're in 15 min batches) at different times of the day over a period of a week or so and in different weathers and compare results.
I have started to make the Mulberry Vodka. We're off to Gran's this afternoon to raid the tree for more berries. Mulberries ripen at different times so when they are ready (a lovely deep reddy/ purpley colour) I just add the berries to the bottle (plus sugar which I've already put in) as and when, then when I think there are enough, give it a good shake every now and then but essentially leave it for a couple of months in a dark place (usually till mid-winter or Christmas time). The vodka goes a gorgeous red/ purple colour and it's a very warming drink to stave off the chilly winter evenings. If I remember I'll post some pics of it when it's ready. Yum!
I've seen a couple of flying insects that I'm struggling to ID. Lou I think you might be the person to ask, or praps Suzie in possession of her Fine New Insect Book?
Bit worried this is the one you had on your blog this week Lou that eats moths?!
Is this an Ichneumon variety? The tail didn't look quite right, or indeed the eye position, for that to me. Beautiful wings though, like stained glass minus the bright colours.
*Update. I very much fear this is an Ophion Luteus, or Yellow Ophion, who lays eggs INSIDE moths caterpillars!!!!!
Staying on the insect theme but rather distressingly I'm afraid, this lovely Silpha Atrata beetle (who eats snails) was in the Moth Box today. I took a rubbish photo of him this morning so got him out to take some better ones just now and to my horror, discovered this.....
His head and upper torso area is absolutely covered in red mites.
Yuk. Vile things.
I thought he was dead but then he moved! So I have put him outside, not being sufficiently Beetle Savvy to know whether this is something he can survive or not, and not wanting to bump him off if he can. I can't say it looks good though. Poor creature. Aren't they horrible?
Talking of insects, look what else was in the Moth Box this morning!!!!
TWO bloomin hornets.
I realised something was up before I got to the Moth Box because I could see the moths buzzing about inside in a distressed way that isn't normal. As soon as I scooped the hornets out (what a brave woman! I hear you cry) they all settled down and fell fast asleep, so no real harm done. It's a right old pain if they are going to start coming into the box though.
I think it's time to look at some nicer things, so here are a selection of today's moths.
A lovely Pebble Hooktip
The rather romantically named Dark Sword Grass, which is a new moth for me
A Lesser Yellow Underwing: brown until she flashes her under-skirts which are bright yellow/ orange
Dun-Bar, a very variable moth in terms of colour and shading, but always with the same lines and central dots
A very furry and sleepy Lobster Moth resting on some pink bunting!
(rather striking I thought)
Dark Sword Grass head on and with one antennae missing. Hope he'll be able to find his way around like that, poor thing.
A twiggy Pale Prominent
Furry Peppered Moth, head on
The next two are to show you the difference between the Swallow Prominent and the Lesser Swallow Prominent moths, who look identical until you notice the white "triangles" on the wing. The Swallow Prominent (above) has narrow, long and thin white triangles at the back of the wing, the first of which reaches more than half way across the wing towards the head.
The white triangles on the Lesser Swallow Prominent (located just above this writing at the back of the wing) are much shorter and don't reach half-way across the wing. Easy when you know how (!).
Two more for illustrative purposes- Pale Prominent Male (above) and Female (below). They can be differentiated by the tuft sticking out at the back of the male- this is absent in the female, who has a smooth bottom (no rude comments please).
No Moth Box tonight- they need a rest and L and I are meeting old friends tomorrow so I will have no time to go through them. Friday night will have to be my Moth Night for counting and recording purposes. Small children arrive tea time on Saturday so I will need to find somewhere safe to put the moths until they wake up! (the moths, not the children). I wonder how M would feel about having them and the caterpillars in our bedroom? It won't be the first time he's come back to discover wildlife in various states of rescue asleep in our room, so I don't suppose he'll mind!
I hope all are well and enjoying the day, we're off to hunt mulberries....
Till next time,