Category Archives: The Garden

PLAYING IN THE GARDEN


Rather than throw the honey jar away while there was still some in the bottom, I decided to leave the lid off and place it on it’s side on the Bar-B-Que. In truth I was hoping that it may attract some late night -flying moths.  However, after checking it at night for a couple of nights and finding nothing, I gave up the idea, but left the jar.

A day or two later the rain had stooped and the sun was briefly shining. I took a stroll down to the Bar-B-Que and was absolutely amazed at the number of Honey Bees and a couple of Wasps all guzzling as much as they could of the (now solidified) honey.  By the time I got there there were two dead Honey Bees and two live wasps amongst the tightly packed in ‘gang’! I watched it quite closely for a while and was surprised to see that both the bees and the wasps all ignored each other.

Honey Bees in Jar Honey Bees in Jar

 

The last remaining Wasp
The last remaining Wasp

 

 

The Garden at Night – 1


I may have mentioned before that the last thing I do at night is to take our mini longhaired Dachshund out into the garden. During the spring and summer when it was dry, she would spend more and more time sniffing about and mousing. So as not to rush her too much I started looking around the garden with my torch.  I have to say, for someone who is keen on Entomology, it was like someone had opened a door into a different world.  And when I think of how long it has taken me to realise this…..

So before long the torch was accompanied by camera and flash and extension tubes and goodness know what else to try and get shot of insects that were, in some cases getting smaller and smaller.  However, all things being equal I will hopefully starting posting some of the pix here.

Today I am going to start with, what is one the smallest orb spiders in the garden Araniella cucurbitina. These guys are so small the spread the web across a single leaf in many cases.  Hope you like it.

Small Orb Spider
Small Orb Spider

Late night Breather in Garden


Just take a flashlight and have one more breath of fresh air before retiring. (Don’t forget to take camera).

I have got into the habit of doming this recently because of Rosie my mini Dachshund who has discovered ‘mousing’ and just loves to go chasing around the garden following her long nose.

Tonight whilst waiting for her I spotted a Speckled Bush Cricket. I love them they alway remind me of Walt Disney characters.

Speckled Bush Cricket
Speckled Bush Cricket

TIME IS THE MOST PRECIOUS COMMODITY


The times I have promised myself that I would make time to sit down and continue with my Blog. However, with the best will the world, there is only just so much time in the day. And if you are a) an insomniac. b) a main carer for your beloved. c) a semi-retired -‘Everything’ – it gets difficult to say the least.

But I am going to try. I have found a new extension to my wildlife photography since I last posted. The Garden at Night! We only have a small garden, by choice, but Ido try and legit go as wilds possible. And recently I found that whilst I was out there at night, waiting for Rosie (or mini-dahshund) to do her business, if I took a small but powerful torch with me,I could enter into a whole new world of activity, with MY insects, in our garden.

It has become a great learning curve for me and intend to start posting some of the more interesting pics here on this blog.

This little feller is the larva of the Harlequin Ladybird.
This little feller is the larva of the Harlequin Ladybird.

This is the first pic, hopefully I will be posting more later.

Gotta Feed The Kids


Firstly apologies for not being around very much lately, but that damned Shingles still has me by the armpit! I must say it is improving, but Doctor says expect another three weeks…cheers doc!

The shed door experiment failed miserably, the old scrumpy didn’t attract even a fly, so it’s back to the books. However, whilst in the garden I did notice a moth kinda hanging in a funny shape, from my outside lantern light. On further inspection I realised that the poor thing had been caught in/on a spider’s silk.  No sooner had I got close enough to try to identify the moth, than an Orb Spider came belting down from the top of the lantern to the moth, to ensure I didn’t nick it!

I must have spent the next 30 or 40 minutes just watching the clever creature, prepare the moth. It spent its time very carefully and meticulously wrapping the moth up in silk as if it was a joint of meat. It appeared to take for ages, and meanwhile I was trying to get shots of the process against the background of the bulb in the lantern. Then suddenly…almost in a flash the spider ‘ran’ up the hanging silk carrying the package with him. I was so surprised how strong the spider was that he could dash up the silk to its ‘lair’ carrying this lump.

Here are some pics, not as good as I would have liked but the lantern light was giving me problems….at least that’s my excuse.

Spider spots me looking at the moth and comes dashing down

Shot No.2

Orb Spider starts work on wrapping the moth

Shot 3.

Spider is making a thorough job of 'cocooning' the moth

Shot 4

Wrapping continues

Shot 5

Starting to finish of the wrapping, and preparing for the ascent

Shot 6

Being very meticulous and ensuring there are no loose ends

Shot 7

And now to get the shopping home

Shot 8

And finally, get the shopping home and into the larder.

The Shed Door


You will no doubt remember my attempt at attracting Moths to my alcohol drenched shed door?

Well first here is the colour that the shed was originally, before any cider was painted on.

So next taking the bottle of Perry Cider and pouring into a dish and painting the door:

This is the result within 10 minutes of painting the door! This has to be the best paint stripper on the market today? No wonder alcohol screwed my liver up after drinking it for all those years. I think maybe a small glass of Nitromorse on ice may be worth a try. (Only joking if any kids are reading…I AM NOT SERIOUS).

So…now I have to paint the whole shed! AND, not a single moth was interested in the very strong smell of  the cider.

  • Bottom line? Need a different type of alcohol to the cider.
  • It’s the wrong time of year.
  • Or, all the visiting moths got so Mozart that they all went on to somewhere else to finish the night off!

Back to the drawing board.

PS

Mozart & List?

Tips & Tricks


I read recently that if you paint a wall say, on a shed  or similar, with any kind of alcoholic liquid, during darkness it will attract moths. Now I haven’t drank for about 12 or 13 years but I still have some odd liquor laying around mainly for visitors. So, I thought why not give it a go. I just pulled out a half bottle ‘Traditional Perry Cider” it had turned from a beautiful golden perry colour to an unfamiliar colour brown! After jamming the screw-on cap in the door jam of the kitchen door to unscrew it, I opened it and it smelt pretty good actually! Very potent. But I don’t drink. So I took it out doors and poured a little into a small pottery saucer and began to paint it onto the door of my garden shed. Nice and near to the kitchen  so I can capture photos of all these wonderful moths that are going to arrive tonight.

Now the shed and the fence is pained in one of these preservative type paints, mine happens to be blue (not my choice by the way).  Imagine my surprise when immediately, I mean IMMEDIATELY, I began to paint on the cider onto the shed door, it removed all traces of blue paint, clean down to the wood!  I have never been able to buy a paint stripper that good.

It smelt really good, and I couldn’t help laughing, although I will have to re-paint the shed now. So watch this space, we will see if actually does attract any moths. More likely to attract a few old Musician friends I should think, with that aroma wafting over the garden wall!

The Cinnabar Larvae


About 8 or 9 days ago I posted a couple of pics of the Cinnabar moth larvae that had moved into the Ragwort in my garden. You may recall I was really quite pleased as I have tried to let my garden go back a little to the wild. I think the number of the caterpillars were about 24. However, two days ago we had a day of torrential down pour, so the next day the moths were down to 2! I’m not sure where all the others have gone, I had quick look around the vicinity but to no avail.

We will see what happens from now.

Cinnabar moth Larvae

Another pic from my last trip to Golden Valley, was this Lapwing. The sad thing was when he(she) took off I found a small dead fledgling!

Lapwing

Allowing the Garden to go back to the wild?


Three years ago we downsized to a nice small modern house. The only thing we didn’t particularly like was the garden. Mainly because for years we had always lived in properties that were close to nature. However, this property had a ‘Designer’ garden, with paviours, raised beds with chipped slate and a fountain! But nothing to attract insects etc. Now some people may like this and I am not knocking them, good luck to them but it’s not for us.
So this year I took the decision to just make a start, and to stop keeping everything so ‘tidy’.  I made a start on the raised bed with the fountain. Got rid of the fountain (it didn’t really work anyway) and the slate and just left it to see what will happen.  Consequently since the Spring this year weeds have proliferated including stinging nettles, Ragwort and some strange plants cropping up from the spillage of the bird seed from the bird-table!

Imagine my surprise when I spotted on the Ragwort  25 black & amber striped caterpillars. They are of course poisonous – mainly, as I am informed – because they eat the Ragwort which is in fact poisonous. The bright black & amber stripes warn other animals not to eat them. They are of course the larvae of The Cinnabar moth.

So, I think this is a good start, and each morning I eagerly rush out to the garden to inspect my new little family who are slowly devouring the flowers of the Ragwort. So far they are all still in place albeit slowing down a bit and moving down the plant to what appears to be a ‘resting’ place snuggled up on a nice broad leaf.

I intend to keep a watchful eye on the and hopefully photograph their progress. The photo below of the fully grown Cinnabar moth is from another day and another site, not in my garden, I have included it here because I think it illustrates nicely the metamorphosis.

Cinnabar moth larvae
The Cinnabar moth Larvae
The Cinnabar moth