Sunday 31 May 2020

Insects on Oxeye Daisies

Green Hairstreak, 29 May 2020 (second garden sighting)

We are enjoying a healthy variety of insect life in our unmown 'mini-meadow' garden at present. We have two patches of (?self-seeded/bird-seeded) Ox-eye Daisies. It seems we are in good company for King's College in Cambridge also has a mass of these flowers, to the delight of head gardener, Steven Coghill. The stunning Cambridge 'meadow' appeared in a Twitter pic. posted by @acambridgediary earlier this evening.

I have noticed in other years that these flowers attract a range of insects. I have already started to photograph invertebrates on Dandelions, so I thought I would do the same with these showy white-and-yellow heads. I will add more photos as I go along. I know some of the insects I have seen or am hoping to see (no sighting of a Thick-legged Flower Beetle to date...), but please let me know if you recognise anything, or if you notice a mistake!  

Query: Narcissus Bulb Fly (Merodon equistris), 26 May 2020

Mother Shipton, 27 May 2020, a garden first

26 May 2020

25 May 2020

Mint Moth, 22 May 2020

Carpet Beetle, 26 May 2020

Blackfly and ?ant (where are the ladybirds?), 26 May 2020

26 May 2020

28 May 2020

28 May 2020

28 May 2020

7-spot Ladybird on stem, 1 June 2020

Ruby-tailed Wasp, 1 June 2020. See here: Hedychrum niemelai

Detail of Ruby-tailed Wasp above, like a glitter ball!

?Moth (antennae to short for Longhorn?), 1 June 2020

Peacock butterfly, 1 June 2020, taken by David Gill

Malachite Beetle, 3 June 2020

Cantharis rustica, 3 June 2020

Saturday 30 May 2020

Green Hairstreak Butterfly

We had seen only seen Green Hairstreaks once until this week when we thought we caught a fleeting glimpse of one in the garden. I began to doubt to my eyes until the butterfly in the photo above landed on an Ox-eye Daisy yesterday, pretty much confirming that what we had seen a few days before was probably one, too. It didn't hang around: you can just see its wings fluttering in the photo below. But it was there, and gives me another 'home patch' species for my list.

Monday 25 May 2020

A Mixed Bag of Bank Holiday Weekend Garden Sightings

Angle Shades

I am not very good at moth identification, and while this Angle Shades looked familiar, I was grateful to the folk on iSpot who gave me a nudge in the right direction. The moth was resting, which apparently they often do out in the open during daylight hours. It looked to me as if it had strung a couple of grass blades together, but I may be mistaken.

I apologise for the fractured quality of the photograph below, but I wanted to see if a 'full frontal' would help me to see what the moth was doing.

Angle Shades, head-on
I always keep an eye out for the iridescent Ruby-tailed Wasp at this time of year, and was not disappointed, though it took me two attempts to end up with the record shot you see below. These insects are small (about 1cm in length), skittish and flighty. Cuckoo wasps may not be my top insects, but you have to admire the colours!

I always find I lose a bit of damselfly knowledge over the winter, so I hope we see a few more to get my ID skills back up to speed. Having had a Small Red sighting last week, it was lovely to discover this blue specimen (or is it the Azure?) on the woodbine after a rain shower.

I usually find Mint Moths give me a run for my money as, like the Ruby-tailed Wasp, they flit about and are hard to photograph. But this one rested for some time on the large ox-eye daisy-like flower below.

Mint Moth

Thursday 21 May 2020

The Appeal of the Dandelion

Peacock butterfly

Inspired by Crafty Green Poet's post on the Dandelion Appreciation Society roughly three weeks ago, I decided to photograph the insects in our garden that perched on these vibrant flowers. All the images below have been taken since the start of May. I don't know what all the insects are yet; but while I try to discover, I hope to continue to keep an an eye out for more, and will add them when I find them. I am not always good at distinguishing a Dandelion from a similar species, so it would be good to be able to identify at least some of the 240 species we have in the UK.

Small White butterfly


Yesterday morning's butterfly, a Common Blue, I think. I have placed this photo below the line because I have a hunch the host plant is not a Dandelion. Do enlighten me!

Saturday 9 May 2020

Small Copper Butterfly

I just missed the chance of trying to identify a blue damselfly in the garden on Saturday. David saw it on the Ceanothus and called me. Sadly it flew over the fence as I drew near. But it was an unusual first-damselfly-sighting of the year for me as my first garden ones have almost always been red.

I went back inside, and seconds later noticed a vibrant orange speck against the rusty colour of a dead dock plant. By the time I had my camera to hand, the 'speck' had moved. I caught up with it and was thrilled to find it was a Small Copper, and my earliest homepatch sighting of one of these little amber gems to date. I shall add it to my Butterfly Conservation Garden Survey list.

And please don't forget, it would be terrific if some of you would have a go at my (butterfly) Picture Challenge for a 5-line poem here on my lockdown blog, The Glow of Emerald Light. Challenge 1 closes later this coming week...

Saturday 2 May 2020

First Month of Butterfly Counting

I began the Butterfly Conservation Garden Butterfly Survey at the end of March, so I have just completed my first month. Habitat, of course, is very important in terms of attracting wildlife. Our Suffolk garden faces east (meaning a fair bit of shadow in the second half of the day) and has sandy soil. It is probably 'average+' in terms of size for a suburban plot. We grow wild flowers from seed (poppy and cornflower). We also sow nasturtium seeds. We have a silver birch tree, a holly, two small hawthorns, a couple of acers and a conifer. Shrubs around the edge include buddleia, laurel, weigela, hydrangea, viburnham and spirea. We have left almost all the grass unmown (I have a little labyrinthine path through it, but otherwise it is as nature intended), and we allow nettles and a bit of bramble.

Obviously I am not out butterfly-spotting in the garden 24/7, but I would have hoped to have seen a Red Admiral by now. We rarely see Small Tortoiseshells here, but it is always a joy when they visit. I wonder what butterflies you are seeing, and what new species I will be able to list in May. It's certainly an enjoyable lockdown activity, not only because the arrival of each butterfly is a cause for celebration, but because everyone's records in this particular survey will help Butterfly Conservation with their invaluable work to ensure that butterflies are a feature of the nation's gardens for years to come.

P.S. Please join me on my new lockdown poetry venture here. I would love to receive your Peacock butterfly-inspired five-liners whether you are an experienced poet or simply prepared to have a go at something new! This first submission window closes on 13th May.