Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Last Few Days....

...have been Quite Trying one way or another. 

Well, more one way than another if truth be told.

Pops has recovered from her op and as far as she is concerned that means she can now revert to her usual hooligan self. As a result she is tearing about the place showing scant regard for wounds or stitches, people's legs, Teddy, walls, stairs, bookcases, chairs, sofas or The Rules. 

She ignores completely my instructions to take it steady and feigns deafness when I plead with her not to jump on Teddy's head again. Instead, she gets a mad look in her eye and whizzes about like a demented thing, making me wince at every leap and bound.
Do Not (said the vet, in the 'taking your pet home after an operation' paperwork) under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES allow your dog to have anything other than SEVERELY RESTRICTED exercise ON THE LEAD for the next ten days.'

Are they mad?

And have they never met a Jack Russel?

I have got grey hairs from trying to keep her quiet.
She is still wearing her 'cone of shame' and her PJs (babygrows) because she has managed to scratch the op site (ouch) and although the stitches are mercifully still intact she can't have them out for another seven days, so is she forced to wear a scratch-proof bodysuit until next week. On Friday night she went to bed with her PJs firmly on, and on Saturday morning she woke up with them in a crumpled heap on the floor beside her with all the buttons still done up.


Guy (our lovely vet) suggested socks when we saw him for a check-up on Monday. I decided to believe that he was joking, because the thought of trying to get socks to stay on Poppy in addition to the cone of shame and the pyjamas is enough to send me to an early grave.

So we've seven more days of being on the lead for wee and poo breaks on the hour, every hour, with all the accompanying wriggling in and out of baby-grows that that entails, and somehow (God knows how) trying to keep her quiet in between times.

Butter wouldn't melt

As a means of maintaining my sanity through all of this, I have been hitting the bottle grabbing the camera and wandering the garden between wee breaks looking for small creatures to add to my garden list. 

It currently stands at 699, with the highest totals being for plants and moths (267 each). Perhaps not surprisingly, invertebrates come next with 71 different species being catalogued within the confines of the garden. That number is bound to be higher, but invert species can be very hard to ID with real confidence. After that it's garden birds (33), butterflies (17) and hoverflies (11). I've also listed dragon and damselflies (5), fungi (3), bees (7), mammals and reptiles (7), amphibians  and molluscs (11) and then mosses and lichen, of which we have lots but I haven't done any positive IDs for those yet. The moths will push the number up, probably by another hundred or so before the year is out, and if I can get mosses and lichens id'd that will help too. I did have to wrestle with my conscience about not adding Buzzard, Sparrow Hawk, Swallow and various owls to the list, all of which zoom about through the sky above the garden, but I promised myself I would be VERY STRICT and only add what physically touched the earth inside our boundaries. There are also species I haven't seen in the garden this year that I did last, which is frustrating because I suspect they are still here but as I haven't seen them I can't count them. There have been some lovely additions though that I haven't seen before, including this rare Longhorn Beetle, who got a brief mention last week but deserves a more specific one....

His smart name is Prionus coriarius, but to his friends he's the Tanner Beetle. If you're on really intimate terms you can call him the Sawyer Beetle. He is quite a rarity, and sadly this one was dying when I found him walking in circles on the patio. Hopefully it means there is a breeding colony here and he wasn't just a loner passing through. He's quite a large beetle as you can see. The larvae develop in the roots of deciduous trees and the adults are generally found singly. They are attracted to light, so with any luck I may get another in the moth box (which should be going out tonight, fingers crossed for the right weather).

More everyday insects are also in evidence in the garden at the moment, although there is a notable dip in everything now that the cooler weather has arrived. M's veg patch at the front of the house usually yields a goodly crop of interesting insect people. For example, this seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata) was busy wandering around on a sorrel leaf:
Seven spot ladybird

And again
And as I was looking at the ladybird movement inside a hole in some nettles nearby caught my eye. Peeping out from the hole was this little face....

This inconsequential-looking little green caterpillar happily munching his way through the nettle leaf will one day turn into this magnificent-looking moth...

Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa)

In the same area of the veg patch my eye was caught by this amazingly colourful insect crawling up a willowherb branch. For a split second I thought it was a Firebug. I had just started to do my Excited Insect Discovery Dance when I remembered that the only breeding colony of Firebugs in the UK is in Devon, and Hampshire is a long way from that county for insects who can't fly. 

It's almost as good though. This is a Cinnamon Bug, or Corizus hyoscyami. It gets its colloquial name because (believe it or not) it smells of Cinnamon. Unfortunately, I only found this out after I'd seen it, otherwise I would have sniffed it and let you know :-) Although, as my neighbour caught me on my hands and knees in the drive last week sniffing a mayweed to ascertain which type it was, it is perhaps a good thing I only learnt about the Cinnamon afterwards. I expect the discovery of me sniffing a bug to see whether it smelt of cinnamon would probably tip her over the edge.

Anyhoo, these bugs belong to the Rhopalid family and they can fly. Although they are relatively common in the south, they aren't yet widely spread around the UK and I have never seen one before so I was really pleased to add him to my garden list. Striking looking, don't you think?
Cinnamon Bug, Corizus hyoscyami

Love the spotty tummy (reminds me of Pop who's tum is covered in spots)
On the wooden sleepers that surround the veg patch and just down from where the Cinnamon bug was enjoying himself on the willowherb, was this Common Groundhopper (Tetrix undulata). It's a small relative of the Grasshopper but one who has more armour. They are about all year round and are found all round the country so you will probably have them in your patch if you're UK based. Rather Handsome in a dark and mysterious way, I thought (actually, can Groundhoppers be dark and mysterious....?)
Common Groundhopper (Tetrix undulata)
Back in the sorrel patch (which is my first port of call for insects in the veg patch and never fails to please) I found these two Dock Bugs (latin name Coreus marginatus). Dock bugs are a type of Squash Bug (an insect belonging to the Coreidae family) and are also known as Leatherbugs. Just to confuse things. Anyway, they are widespread, and these two are neatly demonstrating the difference between early and late instars. An instar is the developmental stage of an insect. Neither of these two are adults yet, although the bigger one looks like pretty close to a final instar to me.

Little and Large Coreus marginatus. Dock Bug
Also in the sorrel (see? I said it was a useful place) was this adult Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina).

Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina).
 With (extremely helpfully once again) the baby version on another leaf nearby. 

Early instar Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina).
I'm not sure what the next one is. A caterpillar of some sort but not one that I know. Again, it was on the underside of a leaf in the veg patch so I will have to keep an eye on it and see what developes. Any IDs most welcome :-)

These pillars are less welcome (as far as M is concerned). Large Whites. They have stripped his kale more or less bare. I don't know whether he has noticed so shall be listening out for the yell at the weekend...

Moving swiftly on.

I wandered down to see the Goat Willow and ask him if he had anything for me. He showed me this. Which is probably a Leafhopper, although getting down to species level for these insects is well nigh impossible without the dreaded genital exams and we don't go there, as you know. My best guess is Thamnotettix confinis, but that is said with tongue firmly in cheek as it's a visual only ID. It might also be Kybos sp.

In a way the ID doesn't matter. What struck me was the camo, which is pretty darn good, don't you think? A quick glance and you'd take this little insect to be a leaf bud. Which is presumably the point when you're a leafhopper....
Thamnotettix confinis
I also found another Lacewing larva on the Goat Willow. This time the insect is more clear as he's only just started collecting fluff....He looks a bit like a shrimp.

Lacewing larva
At the other end of the garden up by the ponds I found this Rather Gorgeous Hairy Shieldbug (Dolycoris baccarum) who helped me hang out the washing  this morning which is now getting wet as it's started raining.... I love the black and white antennae.

And there was also a hoverfly, which my new hoverfly ID book suggests is Sphaerophoria scripta or the Long Hoverfly (although I could be wrong as hoverfly ID is also a tad tricksy because there are so many that all look alike).

And finally I found this nettle gall Dasineura urticae, caused by a small Cecid fly which causes galls on nettle in which the infant fly developes. 

Dasineura urticae
Which neatly brings us back more or less to where the insect people started, and highlights once again the value in leaving some nettles to grow wild in your garden.

I have to go now and bring in the soaking wet washing, before taking Pop out for a pee break and then trying to persuade her to remain still and sensible for the rest of the day.

Job's a  good'un, surely........?

CT :-)



  1. So let me guess, herding the moths is easier than dealing with Poppy right now!!! Actually thinking about it, it sounds as thought it would be easier to train the moths to do tricks and jumps than it would be to keep Pops in order!! Good luck, I hope it works out and that you don't end up to grey! One thing, at least she is happy in herself! xx

    1. It would be easier to train the moths :-) But you're right, I am pleased she is feeling well enough to bounce, just wish she'd left it a day or three longer!! xx

  2. I remember Bramble cutting her hock to the tendon (fortunately not damaging it) when about eight month old after a seemingly harmless dash around the garden whence I was staying at the time (one of many abodes we shared). Was living too far from my vet of choice and had to take her to a well known pet store's veterinary service. Charged me the earth, not that I wouldn't have paid more, and upon getting her back she'd ripped the stitches almost completely out being as they hadn't been arsed to dress it properly. An hour and a half drive back to Wales and my farm vet who kindly met us at something past ten in the evening and Bear was restitched and bandaged up after he completely removed all the previous handy work and cleaned the wound finding a piece of glass still in it (not a small piece). Needless to say I'm happy to be living back here where we both belong. And was Bear gratefully quiet after all this effort? was she hell as like and I had the same hassle as your goodself trying to keep a demented hound quiet and still...had to resort to taking a week from the grind to watch her....wouldn't have her any other way and I'm sure the same is to be said for Poppy. Bloody hell I can waffle at times,,,

    1. It is hard work keeping them quiet isn't it? Hopefully a good sign that she's back to her normal behaviour. How awful for poor Bear to have still had glass in it- a blessing in disguise that she took the stitches apart otherwise it would have sat in there and you might not have known for ages :-)

  3. Good luck with the dog hehe! Great collection of species! I like fire and cinnamon bugs I ID'd one once for a ladt in the Cotswolds but I'm too far north to find my own! I love hairy shield bugs, I was working amongst patch that was full of them yesterday :)
    Your common green shield bug shots are nice too, I do love shieldbugs, but it's not an adult yet as you thought, you had and earlier instar and a final instar :)

    1. Oops! You're quite right re the green shieldy,Thanks for the correction.
      I love shield bugs too and we have a healthy population here of various types.

  4. I know it's not funny at all for you. But I did laugh all the way through your description of your pooch troubles. Especially after scrolling down to that little face she looks so innocent.

    Jean x

    1. She does, doesn't she? And I think she knows it, too. It's those knowing big brown eyes.... xx

  5. I love it, little scamp that Poppy is. She makes me giggle just to look at her naughtiness.

    I wasn't laughing when our Shepherd had her op and we had to keep her calm for 10 days though, I most certainly wasn't giggling then x

    1. Scamp is her middle name. That and naughty.....

      I'll bet keeping your Shepherd quiet tested every ounce of ingenuity. Any tips, you know where to send them. They will be warmly received.... xx

  6. Ho.. Pops is giving you the runabout, the old man ( dog) has spent the last few days finding the most discussing things he can find to eat...then been sick! Just love em.
    You have a impressive list for your garden.. Very busy, all students back at collage tomorrow (yay)
    Amanda xx

    1. She is indeed. Dogs do have the most revolting habits, don't they? Poppy's favourite at the moment is chewing dead things that she discovers in various states of decay. Yuk.
      Good luck for the return of the students- it seems only like last week you were looking forward to the holiday. Time has flown! x

  7. What a super post - lots of bugs I've never seen before (or even heard of!) I hope that Poppy calms down to heal properly, but I have a feeling she won't! I had to smile at her pj's : )

    1. Thanks, BB. I have been constantly amazed this year at the variety of creatures to be found in the garden. Encouraging, given the doom and gloom surrounding so many species.
      And as for Poppy, no, I doubt she'll calm down either. Roll on Monday.... :-)

  8. Good Luck with Poppy for the next week - at least she seems to have recovered well in herself from the operation. Sounds worse than running around after a toddler!!!

    Love the insects - not much around here at all since its gone cooler and I haven't seen one hoverfly since my id book arrived! To be honest though been a bit busy so I haven't spent as much time as usual in the garden.

    1. It is just like having a toddler in the house :-) (thought those days were well behind me!).
      I had the moth box out last night, wasn't expecting nearly 200! Raining but much warmer. Loads of Yellow Underwings of various types....

  9. Poor Poppy she looks so silly in baby grows and the cone of shame...don't let her look in the mirror...well done Teddy for not laughing at her!
    I do love all these new bugs you are introducing me to and that beetle is fantastic.

    1. She does make us all smile, scampering around in her pjs. Yes, a good collection of insects recently (final fling before winter comes and they all disappear until next year).


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