Thursday, 30 June 2011

Hortus Lepidopterans

Okay so the Latin title might not be linguistically correct, but it has a better feel to it than "Garden Moths and Butterflies" which is what this post is all about.

Ever since we bought our house we have been slowly working on transforming the square lawn, which takes up all the flat area of the rear garden, into something more interesting with flowers and shrubs etc. Last year we used a whole bunch of bricks to mark out where we wanted the borders and a pond to be. Unfortunately we haven't had the time to actually do all the work yet.

The back left corner of the garden will eventually hold the pond and a bit of a bog garden as well as a small patio and a bench. Currently though, we have simply let this corner go wild to produce an interesting habitat for good old fashioned British wildlife. This means lots of tall grass, ragwort, dock and a whole bunch of other plants. One side effect of this is that the number of species of moths and butterflies we are seeing in the garden is increasing.

So far this year I've managed to identify and photograph two new species of moth and a butterfly.

From left to right we have:
Tyria jacobaeae
A day flying moth more commonly referred to as a Cinnabar. This is likely to have been attracted to the garden by the ragwort growing wild in what will eventually be a pond as this is the favourite food of it's larval form.
Polyommatus icarus
Last year we actually saw quite a few blue butterflies flitting around the garden. Unfortunately they either flew over the fence or were eaten by the Robins before we had a chance to identify them. This year, however, I finally found one sunning itself in the border and it sat still long enough for me to identify it as a Common Blue. It's a shame I didn't manage a photo of the bright blue upper wing surfaces but all the identifying characteristics are actually in the photo.
Diachrysia chrysitis f. aurea
I found this Burnished Brass moth in the herb border today while I was mowing the lawn. It was sitting in the marjoram which isn't really surprising given that my moth book lists marjoram as one of the larval food plants.
So I'm sorry if any of my neighbors think that the garden looks a little untidy, it will improve slowly, but until we have the time I'd prefer it to be a haven for British wildlife then a boring lawn.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Cercopis Vulnerata

Have you ever wondered what hides inside cuckoo spit? Well a few weeks ago my father-in-law blogged a photo of a froghopper larva that had been knocked out of some cuckoo spit in his garden. Interestingly just a day or so before I'd actually seen and photographed an adult red and black froghopper, Cercopis Vulnerata, in our garden.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Murder Death Kill

A couple of weeks ago GB blogged about bookcases (actually two separate posts here and here) which generated quite a few comments. Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers got me thinking with this comment:
I guess it pays not to own too many books on poisonings and other murder methods.... or sex guides or even just a collection of bodice ripper novels - all might be embarrassing.
Now I tend to arrange my non-fiction books by topic, and while I don't have a shelf full of sex guides, I do have a shelf all about murder and poisons.

Now I'm not a psychopathic murderer but I do enjoy reading these books. I didn't set out with the intention of reading a whole bunch of books on the same topic. Rather I would read one book, which would make reference to another and I just ended up following the links. Sometimes I'd buy one of the books just because it sounded interesting. The "How to Kill" book is a good example of this -- I needed a book to read on a flight and thought this might get me some funny looks! I doubt I'd have the nerve to do that in todays climate though.

I now actually have more books than will fit on this small shelf. In fact I'm currently reading a very interesting book on germ warfare!

So do any of you have an interesting bookshelf that is maybe just a little out of the ordinary?