Hilary

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hilary
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Hilary

Postby hilary » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:23 pm

The plan is to combine the large veg garden with wildlife (specially butterflies and moths) and still get some some profit from the veg and cut flowers. Also a small field rented to farmer for grazing and haylage.
Butterfies presently visiting:
BRIMSTONE............... Planted Buckthorn in 3 sunny spots in march 2011
BROWN ARGUS (only the odd one from 2010)....Have Doves foot Cranesbill (an annual I think) as a weed but find it hard to maintain - lack of weeding gets it swamped, hoeing is too indiscriminate and handweeding very time consuming. Have some seedling Rock Rose which I have to find a home for.
BROWN HAIRSTREAK ( only the odd one from 2010) Have found 3 eggs on suckering blackthorn in field most of the rest is probably too exposed. have cut back some lrge shrubs in a more sheltered spot to give suckering blackthorn more sun.
CABBAGE WHITE & SMALLWHITE Despite not spraying or removing eggs from P/Sp Brocolli found no sign of large white damage - hope I do not have to start worrying about them!
COMMA Have nettles and various untended currants but have never spotted a caterpillar COMMON BLUE (odd few since 2009) want to find a spot to introduce Birdsfoot Trefoil where it won't get swamped
GATEKEEPER, MEADOW BROWN, RINGLET, LARGE AND SMALL SKIPPERS, SPECKLED WOOD All except Gatekeeper and Sp.Wood in low numbers (one at a time) have started to put strips and patches of Cocksfoot, Wood False Broom, and Yorkshire Fog in sunny spots in veg garden, not sure about controlling it!
GREEN VEINED WHITE & ORANGE TIP. Plenty of garlic mustard, Hedge mustard and Honesty about. trying to get a bit of Lady's smock going in the lawn.
HOLLY BLUE have got Holly and Ivy
PEACOCK never seen the caterpillars here. TORTOISESHELL plenty of nettles but caterpillars never matured last year.
SMALL COPPER (very few) have tried to introduce sorrel into various areas this summer.
WALL - I think this was about in the 70s - have never seen it since so I don't suppose it will come back

Moths - A project for next year is to find out what is here. so far all I know for sure: Ruby Tiger, Scarlet Tiger, Small Magpie, SilverY, lots of unidentifed caterpillars. It will be much harder to learn moths!

Have in greenhouse Large and ordinary birdsfoot trefoil, Fleabane, Scabious, Rockrose and Knapweed but am finding it hard to risk planting it out in case I lose it - like most of the sorrel and yarrow i planted this year - I'll wait till they're bigger. So till next spring...

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ChrisC
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Re: Hilary

Postby ChrisC » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:31 pm

sounds good Hilary. on currant i have found the caterpillars on the underside of the leaves. I couldn't tell you if this is normal as my only experience is 2 caterpillars in my own garden which disappeared shortly after finding them. i've also had large white on honesty as well as orange tip. I seem to recall Susie mentioning that the caterpillars of orange tip on honesty don't make it but i'd await a 2nd opinion on that too as my memory isn't all that at the best of times :)

with regards to identifying moths and caterpillars there are some knowledgeable folk on here that may be able to help if you have pics.

i wish you the very best of luck with your endeavour.

Chris

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:30 am

I will look out for nibbled leaves on the currant plants this year.
Regarding the Orange tips on Honesty - It must have seeded in preferable spots to the garlc mustard as I found ne eggs on that.
Several of the eggs on Honesty were layed on the base of the petal - so doomed to fall off when the petal dropped before the egg was hatched.
I followed the development of the others in various parts of the garden, along with Mullein moth caterpillars of varying sizes on a mullein plant. But one day I found all the mullein caterpillars gone, except a large one that was in a folded leaf. I checked the orange tips (most of which were of a simalar size) and could only find one. Afraid this would go too, I picked off the shoot it was on and put it in a jar intending to return it in a few days when whatever was getting the caterpillars had forgotten about them but within a day it had turned into a Crysalis. It was green for a couple of days but turned light brown. I think it may be empty which would confirm what you were saying about Orange tips on Honesty, But just in case it is alive I am keeping it ( very hard to find a cold but safe place to keep it).
Soon I'm going to put some garlic mustard in the sheltered flower garden - it is just as attractive as any garden plant.

In the mean time I was out looking for some more local spots within 5 miles in which I could indulge my butterfly interest later this year (google earth is very useful in finding likely spots). Yesterday I checked out the foopaths near an SSSI near Crewkerne. It was a beutiful area over steep hilly fields and tracks enclosed with overgrown hedges but what irritated me (enough to commit it to print) was that someone had 'beautified' some of the tracks with garden plants. It must have taken a lot of effort to cart daffodils etc and what look like spanish hyacinthes all that distance, but to me it is just a reminder of the spread of surburbia.

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:48 pm

This last week has seen the Scarlet Tiger caterpillars up and eating. Think I will have to move some more Forgetmenots up from the veg garden as there are not many in the garden and they have chomped alot of them well down.

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:53 am

The Orange Tip crysalis, that I thought I had 'rescued' from wasps last year, and thought was dead because it apppeared empty as the light seemed to shine right through it, has started to darken inside at both of the pointed ends. There may be some hope for it! I do hope so because the only caterpillars I could find last year were on Honesty, the Garlic Mustard presumably being not in the right place for them.
The Orange Tips seem to like the ornamental rose garden so I have moved some Garlic Mustard there and hopefully, if the plants survive, the Orange Tips will have a better choice of plants to lay eggs on. Plus the Lady's Smock that I put in the lawn last year is coming on well.
I don't think my efforts are at all necessary for the butterflie's success around this way as there is alot of Garlic Mustard locally, but I do get great satisfaction from being able to check up on their progress in the comfort of my garden!

I caught a glimpse of my first butterfly of the year on the 9th which I think was a Peacock, the next day there was a Peacock in much the same place which made me wonder if they come back to roost in the same place.

Also on the 9th I identified my 1st moth using my new moth guide British Moths and Butterflies by Chris Manley. If I am right it was Acleris notana or ferrugana.
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hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:09 pm

Good and bad news; the Orange Tip has hatched but just as the weather is set to get cold.
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28th march
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at 3pm today
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An hour or so later
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at 7pm as the temperature drops

I had not seen an Orange Tip this year until this afternoon while having a look in the back garden wondering if it would be better off there, up flew a male Orange Tip. I have been wondering if I should have kept the crysalis in the fridge until april, and it is some consolation that a wild one also choose the wrong time to emerge, even though it is a male.
But at least it is some evidence that caterpillars that have only fed on Honesty can develop. (After I had encouraged it to sit on some opening Raspberry leaves where I thought it was best camaflaged, it quickly went on a short flight to an Honesty plant!)

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:25 pm

As I was watching the newly emerged Orange Tip I also found out at least one of the place where a Peacock (who frequently suns its self on the path) spends the night; at 5.20pm it did a quick lap of the greenhouse and straight down to a cavity by a fern made by last years dead leaves.

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NickMorgan
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Re: Hilary

Postby NickMorgan » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:29 pm

That's fantastic! Great that you witnessed it and managed to get some pictures. I have been looking for orange tip chrysalises all winter with no luck. The green-veined white chrysalis on my garage also emerged today. At least they have had a nice hot day on the first day of their life, rather than emerging on a cooler day.

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Lee Hurrell
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Re: Hilary

Postby Lee Hurrell » Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:50 am

Lovely to see, Hilary.

Best wishes,

Lee
To butterfly meadows, chalk downlands and leafy glades; to summers eternal.

Paul Harfield
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Re: Hilary

Postby Paul Harfield » Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:13 pm

hilary wrote:As I was watching the newly emerged Orange Tip I also found out at least one of the place where a Peacock (who frequently suns its self on the path) spends the night; at 5.20pm it did a quick lap of the greenhouse and straight down to a cavity by a fern made by last years dead leaves.

Lovely that you got to see your Orange Tip hatching. I hope I am as lucky with my Speckled Woods, I missed every one of the 10 or 12 emergences I had over the winter :(

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:10 am

I must stop interfering with the natural order of things. Just before the 'deluge' it clouded over and I saw a female Orange Tip settle on a chive bud . An hour or so later I went out with my brolly to see if she was still there, she was. As I stood there it started hailing and I felt obliged to stay for a while providing cover with the brolly. The hail didn't let up and I was getting wet and feeling foolish so I picked the bud complete with butterfly and moved it to a sheltered spot. Much later I went out and found the wind had changed and my sheltered spot was any thing but, so feeling responsible, decided to put bud and butterfly in a jam jar for the night. The next day at mid-day it stopped raining so much so I put her out on her original Chive clump and went to work. Then the weather came back with a vengance for the next 18 hours and she must have perished anyway, along with many others.

I was begining to wonder whether any Orange Tips would survive long enough to breed, but today I saw two (very fresh looking) female Orange Tips busy laying eggs. Also saw a Holly Blue and a Peacock. Have yet to see a Green Veined White which is unusual. But most surprising (for me) was a Humming Bird Hawk Moth darting among the Honesty.

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Fri May 11, 2012 9:47 pm

A few butterflies out in the garden today despite the cold wind, Orange Tips, Green Veined White and Small White. I saw a smalliish female Orange Tip laying eggs on Rocket, which is a bit awkward as I was going to clear that area of the garden. Still I can leave the Rocket and see how they get on. The photos are out of focus but she was very quick layimg the eggs, so quick that I thought it was the 'going through the motions' behaviour and was suprised to find eggs. The photo of the egg is head on and looks whiter than it should be.
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egg on Rocket
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laying eggs on Rocket

Later I went out to Thurlbear. in places it was warm and sheltered but I only saw 1 Orange Tip, but luckily several Grizzled Skippers and a Dingy Skipper (very furry!)
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Dingy Skipper

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Sat May 12, 2012 7:14 pm

Today was a better day than yesterday; warmer and less wind, but so few butterflies about. It seems only Orange Tips are carrying on as usual. Late in the day a Holly Blue came down and posed so well I had to go and get my camera.
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Holly Blue on Iris
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Holly Blue

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Sat May 26, 2012 2:58 pm

I was expecting vast hordes of butterflies to emerge once the weather warmed up - but so far not very much in my immediate area. Even the Bees seem to have gone elsewhere. The Holly blue is the only one I regularly see.

One that did respond to the heat was a crysalis that I removed from old shelving that had to be disinfected. I had kept it (just in case it was alive) with a collection of odd moth or beetle pupas that I had dug up last year in the veg garden. I check them every day, and was very suprised to find it suddenly deveop from a half imagined darkening one day to a visable wing the next day and emerging the next. I thought it was a Green Veined White and was suprised to find a Small White sitting on the curtain.

I'm glad to see a few Orange Tips about still - I thought they may all be gone already. Its been an odd year but it was interesting that the March ones laid on Honesy which flowers early while my Garlic Mustard was barely in bud. later when the Garlic Mustard was flowering well and the Honesty nearly over, they used the Garlic Mustard. Today my little patch of Lady's Smock (not well established) has started to flower and I've just seen a GVW and and Orange Tip appear to search for it, and had the wind not been so strong I fancy they would have found it. So hopefully they at least have found food plants despite the bad weather.
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small white
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rescued crysalis

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:18 pm

The weather has been so dreadful this year I fear my try at providing more butterfly/moth foodplants will have very few takers this year. Orange Tips are the exception who seem to have weathered the weather and have produced quite a few caterpillars at very different stages on both Garlic Mustard and Honesty. They seem to especially go for parts of the plants that overhang paths and I am impressed by the caterpillars' ability to avoid being scraped off by passing legs, and when the plants are blown about by high winds. One that I'd only just noticed had been subjet to probably daily 'leg traffic', seems to cling on front and back and let its middle stretch and be pushed out of the way. (now safely pinned back a bit further)
Saw my first Pianted Lady in the in the garden for a couple of years, blown in on a strong wind.
Also in one of a rare few minutes of sunshine a bedraggled Geen Veined White that seemed to be trying to warm up or dry out. Its upper veins seemed very pronounced, but maybe it was because it was wet.
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hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:04 pm

The rotten weather continues. Makes me wonder how any non migrant butterflies ever managed to survive in this country. But then a walk in some wild flower meadows at An Englih Nature reserve at Barrington Hill on cloudy and accasionally drizzly saturday, I was disturbing a Meadow Brown at almost every other step. The Burnet moths were active throughout, and when the sun appeared so did groups of Marbled Whites.
Back on my patch its very different. One at a time and well spread out over the week:
L. Skipper ...1
H.Blue........1
S.Tortishell..1
R.Admiral....1
P.Lady........1
M.Brown......Possibly 2!
And a few Scarlet Tiger moths over the last couple of weeks.

The Skipper and Tortishell staked out an area for a few days and then disapeared, hopefully to try a new area.

I was glad to see the Painted Lady (even if well weathered)- the last one I saw was an abnormally small one in 2010. It, a Silver Y moth and the Tortishell all nectared on the Iberis that I only planted as it was recomended as a nectar plant by Butterfly Conservation. The Tortishell swapped beteen Iberis and Astrantia.
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painted lady


The Orange Tip caterpillars have mostly gone except a few smaller ones, but more than half disapeared before they reached full size.
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S.Tortishell

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:48 pm

It seems a great year for Meadow Browns and Ringlets, more than usual. I was chuffed when the Knapweed in my mini meadow flowered and it was well visited. Not so thrilled when the Creeping Thistle flowered and they all went over to that, especially as I was going to pull it out and have felt obliged to leave bits dotted about.

Looking at my earlier 'plan' it all seems a bit optimistic now. The Brimstones were unimpressed with my Buckthorn. It was quite late into leaf and most of the few Brimstones I saw were gone by time the buds burst. I'm just relieved that there are a few GVWs around now. I watched one laying eggs on the Aubrieta and if they can do well on that it must be a great help to them in as every other garden seems to grow it.

The Buddlia is almost devoid of butterflies but at night it is far more populated with moths - I have taken to going out with a torch. Moths are much better behaved on it than butterflies with regard to having their photo taken for later attempts at ID. Last night I saw a lovely large moth that I'm fairly sure is an 'Old Lady'

No gatekeepers as yet but I've seen a few in the area this week so I can still hope! A few Small Skippers and an occasional Comma, Sm. and Large White.
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Old Lady moth
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comma
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Sm Skipper
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Ringlets

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ChrisC
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Re: Hilary

Postby ChrisC » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:22 pm

certainly is an Old lady, for July my buddlieas are deserted at night compared to previous years. i'm quite disappointed :) but i warn you Hilary, it gets addictive. you'll probably start to notice a few more spiders which show up better under torchlight than dayliight, if you haven't noticed already that is. :)

Chris

hilary
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Re: Hilary

Postby hilary » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:21 pm

I have only just seen the 'addiction' warning, ... too late! I have been busy these last 2 months with moths. As I have not 'mothed' before I can't be dissapointed in the reported low numbers - its all new and totally absorbing. But yes, unfortunately for me, spiders galore.

On the home Butterfly front things are better than expected regards Tortishells, Peacocks, R.Admirals and Whites. In fact last week they were building up well in numbers and of course my Nectar offerings were all but over, with the Asters yet to open. Then one day they were far and few between, but I tracked them down to a nearby row of Buddleas at full bloom. A lovely rare sight 20+ Tortishells and a good scattering of Peacocks, R.Admirals, Whites and a Brimstone all busy fattening up. The Buddleas were facing N.W. which must have delayed flowering much more effectively than my late spring pruning which had absolutly no effct this year against the unpruned one.

On my transects I've seen more S.W.Fritillaries than C.Blues or B.Argus so I was very glad to see one of each in the garden, very late - in the last week of August. With luck there must be some C. Blues nearby as my Bird's Foot Trefoil and Black Medick has only just got going. Which comes back to spiders - the webs are everywhere now and I worry that such small butterflies are easily caught.

The small Tortishell crysalis was found nearby where the caterpillars feed. I think it must have been parasitised as for a start it was easily found! It aslo was particularly beautifully gold (more than the photo shows) and has two little threads hanging from it.
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millerd
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Re: Hilary

Postby millerd » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:35 pm

Hi Hilary - yes, that looks like the evidence of a parasitic fly. Probably the infamous Sturmia bella or one of its relatives. Soon after the caterpillar becomes a chrysalis, the larva of the fly emerges from it, sails down that piece of silk and drops to the ground where it pupates. The flies themselves are unspectacular, looking a bit like ordinary grey houseflies.

Dave


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