"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A few more Moths and Garden Update

I don't usually run my moth trap (15W Actinic Skinner) more than once or twice a week but a dearth of moths so far this year combined with the warmer, drier weather has resulted me in leaving it out every night for over a week.

I am still not catching many moths (I think everyone is finding their catches are much lower so far this year) but numbers are very slowly increasing.

Since last weekend I have added the following to the 2013 Year List:

Tachystola acroxantha
Bright-line Brown-eye
Brimstone Moth
Common Pug
Peppered Moth
Knot Grass

Brimstone Moths are just beautiful but unfortunately the one lurking in the moth trap flew away as soon as I lifted the egg box so I've "cheated" here a little and this photo is of one taken last September.

Peppered Moth

Although Peppered Moth,like so many other species is declining in Britain (numbers declined by two thirds between 1968 and 2002), it is still fairly widespread and often found in back gardens. It has a fascinating scientific story attached to it as it is one of the best known examples of evolution by natural selection and is often called "Darwin's moth"

Peppered moths usually display the black and white speckled appearance shown in the photo above. The moth rests during the day on lichen covered tree trunks and the colouring provides superb camouflage. There are also, however, melanic (black) forms of the moth which occur naturally due to genetic mutation. The melanic moths are far less well camouflaged against lichen and thus far more likely to be eaten by predators. Fewer survive and under normal circumstances the melanic form is far less common than the "peppered" variety.

However, during the nineteenth century soot and pollution killed lichens on urban trees and it was noted that the black melanic form of the moth became far commoner in towns and cities than the peppered variety. The situation was reversed as with blackened trees and walls the melanic form was far better camouflaged and it was the peppered form that was predated. As moths have short life spans evolution by natural selection occurred quickly. For example, the first melanic Peppered Moth was first seen in Manchester in 1848 and yet by 1895 98% of peppered moths recorded in the city were melanic.

By the mid twentieth century legislation was introduced to reduce air pollution. As air quality improved and lichens returned to trees so the pale version of Peppered Moth which was now again better camouflaged started to become much more common than the black variety showing how natural selection always favours the variety of moth which is best suited to the current environmental conditions.

Bright-line Brown-eye

Common Pug

Knot Grass

Garden Birds

The six Blue Tit chicks fledged from the nestbox successfully this morning.

Garden Flowers

A few photos from around the garden


Cranesbill Geranium - very popular with bees

Garden Pond


Azaleas and Rhodendron

Yellow Poppy

More species are coming into flower in our garden wildflower meadow. After last year's beautiful display of Common Poppy after part of the meadow was reseeded, I think we are back to domination by Red Campion followed later by St John's Wort and Ox-eye Daisies

Hawthorn in the hedgerow is finally starting to flower

Ragged Robin!! :) by the pond and bog garden

I will be keeping an eye on this patch of nettles in the hope that we might get some butterfly caterpillars.

Two of my Gnomes - Mr Hufflepuff and Mr Grumbleweed! I always name them :) I've two new ones to go out in the garden when I can find the right place for them.

I think my love of garden gnomes began in childhood. My grandfather had a dozen or so round his garden pond and I remember every winter he used to take them inside and painstakingly repaint each and every one.

Reference: Butterfly Conservation website www.mothscount.org


Countryside Tales said...

A really interesting post which I very much enjoyed reading. All the moths were beautiful but I think my favourite is the Knot Grass- amazing patterns. Fascinating facts about the Peppered Moth too. I don't know much about moths but can feel an interest developing. Loved the flowers in your garden and of course seeing your pond, which as you know I have a particular interest in :-)

Wendy said...

Wonderful photos; those first two moths are beautiful. That's fascinating about the impact of air pollution on moths, I hadn't considered that. Good to hear about the Blue Tits leaving successfully and I had to smile at the gnomes!

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales Many thanks - so glad you enjoyed. An interest in moths becomes very addictive :) But they are totally fascinating and its amazing to see how species are flying through your garden at night :)

Ponds are brilliant - such a magnet for wildlife and superb for children too. Mine when younger loved ours. Last year I finally managed to see a dragonfly emerging from its exuvia - totally magical :) Still very envious of your grass snake!!!

Wendy - Many thanks. Some of the moths are just as brightly coloured and attractive as butterflies I find. Even the duller browner ones have the most amazing markings :)
Was so pleased that the Blue Tits fledged successfully especially after seeing GSW's interest in the box!! Glad you liked the gnomes :)

Em Parkinson said...

Your garden looks gorgeous and I love that Peppered Moth - such delicate patterns.

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Thank you :) Very pleased with the Peppered Moth - only the second I have caught. Worth looking out for. This one wasn't in the trap but on the patio floor near the lighted garage.

Tricia Ryder said...

Moths are lovely.. must admit I do tend to rather overlook them... but I shall observe more closely.

Your garden looks really lovely Caroline - all that colour... I do miss my former garden with its pond and all the wildlife ...

Ragged Robin said...

Tricia Ryder - Thanks Tricia. Try and get Pete interested in moths lol :)!!

Must admit leaving our garden, if we move in a few years, will be a wrench. Brian's put so much work into making into wildlife friendly. Not sure how big your new garden is compared to the past one but have you got room for even a small pond? or even a water feature?

ShySongbird said...

Hi Caroline :-) The Brimstone Moth is lovely, I've only seen them in photos, always reminds me of the Clouded Yellow Butterfly not that I've ever seen on of those. I thought the info on the Peppered Moth was really fascinating, always interesting to read facts like that.

Your garden looks so colourful with the Rhododendrons and Azaleas. I just love your pond it looks so natural. How big would you say it is and is the upkeep really complicated? I would love one but very worried about all the leaves which would fall in it wherever it was sited, not to mention the complete lack of DIY skills in our house ;-)

All of your flower photos are beautiful. Is your clematis Nelly Moser? Mine is still in bud but such a faithful plant which never seems to resent my neglect! Glad you have Ragged Robin...how could you not :-) I'm very envious of your Hawthorn and wish we had planted more native, wild species when we first came here.

Sweet little gnomes, I love that you give them such fun names :-)

Ragged Robin said...

ShySongbird Hi Jan :) I love the Brimstone moth too :) I've never seen a Clouded Yellow either!! :( Keep an eye out in a few months though for the Swallowtailed moth - very like the butterfly but just pale lemon. I rarely catch it in the trap but have seen most of mine at night near the windows.

The pond is approx (going to use imperial measures now!! :) 12 feet by 10? I know Brian did make it a lot bigger at one stage. Fallen leaves are a big problem in our pond. Sometimes Brian covers it with netting in the autumn or just uses a shrimp net type thingy to fish them out. Algae can be a problem and he does sometimes add something that you can get on the internet that is non chemical and wildlife friendly to get rid of it.

We haven't got any fish in it although I would love sticklebacks :) Insects and amphibians just tend to colonise naturally. If you weren't sure you could start with a very small pond. David has one up in his garden which is about 2 feet by 2 feet but still gets frogspawn :)and see how you get on. If you are interested I will ask Brian where he got instructions from to construct it (either internet or book) and let you know.

Glad you liked the flower photos :) Haven't a clue what the clematis is :( but it is neglected :) Rather pleased with Ragged Robin :) Just hope it survives as we've had it before and its disappeared! The hawthorn is ancient and Brian always overprunes so it doesn't get many flowers or berries :( Next door have one totally neglected but always full of blossom and berries!

Top of the garden has changed a lot as we used to have a huge vegetable plot and fruit area but when we had D and E Brian just didn't have the time to maintain it which is when he planted the wooded area and native hedge and did the wildflower meadow.

Glad you like the gnomes - thought you might :)