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.
I was doing some computer housework today and just having a general clean up and sort out. I found one particular photo that I took a while ago. It’s in Rogiet a small village about 5 miles from Chepstow, for those who are not familiar with area, Chepstow is where the Severn Bridge crossing is, the Gateway to Wales. However, there is a small little hideaway in Rogiet and it is owned by the Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT) it is a very old area where many moons ago, so I believe, there was some kind of Gypsy dwelling. Later on it also became a local tipping place where the locals would take there rubbish to dump. I understand some nice little finds have been found there over the years. Especially if you are a collector of ‘say’ small tincture bottles and the like. Today is has been cleared and cleaned up by volunteers with GWT into a small nature reserve, and on a nice day it is a lovely place to go and just sit and watch and listen to nature. I have spent many hours there over the years and I have seen everything from newly born Rabbits to soaring Buzzards, not to mention 1000’s of flies of all types and sizes (great if you are a Bug person), bees, birds and a plethora of wildflowers. For those of you who live in the area, I can recommend a 20 minute stroll at The Rogiet Poor Lands site, and it doesn’t have to be a nice sunny day either. I have also been there on a crisp Autumn morning and watched the songbirds hunting for food.
There is no charge to go in and in most cases, depending upon time of year and day you may well be on your own where you can contemplate……..well anything really.
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.
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.