Thursday, 19 June 2014

Silent Bob and Malevolent Moths

Silent Bob the tailess squirrel turned up at the bird table today, he looks like a Hyrax wandering around the garden. I found a Comma caterpillar on a blackcurrant bush, when it knew it was rumbled it contorted itself so it looked like a bird dropping. I keep the moths I catch in the fridge during the day so I can release them at dusk, I think one must have been very annoyed as it seems to be trying to get me with its death ray vision. (Moths have good eye sight and like cats eyes make the most of low light levels by having a reflective layer of cells that double the amount of light hitting the back of the eye. When looked at from the same direction as the lights source they appear to glow.) The ichnumon wasp flew into the porch; they lay their eggs in the larva of Horntails.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Ox-eye Daisies have self-sown everywhere in the garden, the bees love them and I love them as they dance in the breeze. I grew some cornfield wildflowers and the poppies are being visited by lots of insects including hoverflies, I scattered the seed along the path and also grew some in a window box. Barrie found the stinkhorns in the wood, they were covered in slime in the morning and it had all been eaten by flies by evening. The moths were two of very many that came to the light trap last night, I'd never seen a Green Silver Lines before, very beautiful.

Green Arches

Green Silver Lines

Hoverfly on Field Poppy in windowbox



Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Nettles are always a good place to look for insects going about their lives, or losing them in the case of the aphids.

14 Spot Ladybird

I think its a Small Tortoiseshell caterpillar, not sure.

Silken threads hold leaf edges together as they feed.

All that's left is a skeletonized leaf and lots of poo.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The garden looks beautiful, full of colour and life. Especially midges, who are starting to make gardening difficult, biting and getting in eyes and mouths. At night they come in, get stuck and end up piled along window bottoms. The sheep were sheared last week and not only did they no longer recognize each other,running around calling and head butting each other they also had to contend with the new and unpleasant sensation of midges on their skin. I've bought a black head net to weed in, very effective, although I almost killed the postman when I stood up to stretch one morning.

While chopping firewood for winter Barrie found this puffball amongst the leaf litter, it was about 3 inches across and full of jelly. It was remarkably heavy and attached to the soil by thin white roots. We also noticed an old nest under the bark of a tree at around head height and wondered if it was an old Tree Creeper nest. This morning I found a Mayfly sunning itself on the car or perhaps it had mistook the shiny surface for a pond. We have been watching a Hornet flying around in the garden, it sounds like an mini old- fashioned fighter plane as it buzzes around. We found the start of what looks like a wasps nest in the shed - they nested here last year - or maybe its the hornet.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Ladybird Parasite

Ladybird parasitized by D. coccinellae
I found this unfortunate ladybird on the underside of a nettle leaf. I really hope its dead and not just paralysed. I think its the work of the parasitic wasp Dinocampus coccinellae, which lays a single egg inside the ladybird. This hatches after about a week. Initially it absorb nutrients directly from the ladybird. Later it feeds directly on the ladybirds fat and gonads, not it's vital organs thereby keeping the ladybird alive. It then passes through 4 larval stages, taking around 18-27 days after which it immobilises the ladybird by biting through the nerves in its legs. It then chews its way out  and spins a cocoon under the ladybird so  it is protected by the ladybirds body and warning colours from birds and other predators. After 6-9 days out hatches another female wasp who is ready to parasitize another ladybird around an hour after emergence.

Moths and Moonlight

I put the moth trap out last night even though the moon was almost full as it was the only chance I will get this week

Silver Y
Tawny-barred Angle

Middle-barred Minor

Pale-shouldered Brocade
Beautiful Golden Y
Beautiful Golden Y
Clouded-bordered Brindle

Broom Moth

Saturday, 7 June 2014

First Strawberry

First strawberry of the year!

Big, red, juicy...

and gone!

Dazed Nuthatch

Barrie startled a Nuthatch hoping to help itself to some bird food in the shed and it flew into the window.  He sat with it gripping his hand for about fifteen minutes as it gradually came round; it really did look like it was seeing stars, preferring to keep its eyes closed and occasionally squeaking. It managed a short flight to cling to the wall and after another short rest, flew off into the trees where another Nuthatch flew in to join it for a noisy reunion.

Just after it stunned itself.

Looking a lot brighter.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Spring Evening

Hard to credit the difference a month makes. Everywhere is green and lush and the garden is full of colour. We have fledgling Robins, Coal Tits, Goldfinches and Nuthatches and were pleases Blue Tits and Nuthatches used the boxes we put up in Februaary. And I think the rabbits are planning to expand their family (again).

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Poplar Hawkmoths Laothoe populi

Wonderful surprise when opened the moth trap on Monday morning, two beautiful Poplar Hawkmoths.