"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

Friday, 18 July 2014

Moths, Bees, Flowers, A Newt and a City Widlflower Meadow

I've put the moth trap out three times since we came back from holiday and, at long last, moths numbers are building up. Its very hot and humid here at the moment but sadly a lot of torrential rain and thunderstorms are being forecast so I doubt I will be putting it out this weekend. So a few photos of the more interesting species.

Riband Wave (Idaea aversata)

Clay (Mythimna ferrago)

Double Square-spot (Xestia triangulum)

Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica)

Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea)

Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)

Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria)

Here in it's pot awaiting release.

Bird's Wing (Dypterygia scabriuscula) I love this unusual looking moth and have only trapped a few in four years. Someone suggested it looked as though it was dressed in a Victorian evening gown and I think that is a really apt description!

Sycamore (Acronicta aceris)

Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor)

New butterflies seen in the garden recently for this first time this year include Green-veined White, Comma and yesterday I was thrilled to see a Skipper on the lavender. Its years since I last saw a Skipper in the garden. Unfortunately I couldn't identify it to species level as it flew over the garden fence before I could get close enough!!

If you live in the UK the yearly Big Butterfly Count run by Butterfly Conservation (in association with Marks and Spencers) starts this weekend. It runs from 19th July to 10th August and all you need to do is watch and record butterflies in your garden or park for 15 minutes and then submit your sightings. Its a great example of Citizen Science and, following its launch in 2010, it has become the world's biggest butterfly survey. It aims to assess the health of our environment as butterflies react rapidly to changes in the environment and are, therefore, excellent biodiversity indicators. The survey will also help track the effects of Climate Change and changes in populations of species.

For more information please visit www.bigbutterflycount.org.

I am really pleased that Leafcutter Bees (one of the Megachile species) are again using one of the bee "hotels" in the garden. These are small solitary bees that nest in holes in plant stems, walls etc. and they "cut-off" pieces of leaf (often roses) to make a cell for their larvas. The larvae will hatch and develop, pupate in the autumn and hibernate over winter. The adults feed on nectar and pollen.

Unfortunately for my leaf cutter bees there is again this year a Cuckoo Bee (one of the Coelyoxis species) (in fact there are 2 indviduals at least this year)lying in wait. They will lay eggs in the cells used by the leaf cutter bees and when they hatch the Cuckoo Bee larva will steal the pollen provided for the leaf cutter bee larva and then kill the leaf cutter young.

Last night when I was watering the tomato plants as it was getting dark a Common Newt emerged from within the grow-bag. Once they have bred the adult newts will have left our garden pond and spend the summer in damp places.

St John's Wort is now flowering in the garden wildflower "meadow".

This flower, together with lesser knapweed, scabious, wild carrot and yarrow, are very popular with insects.

Verbena bonariensis is now starting to flower - I am slowly adding more plants around the garden as this species is very popular with pollinating insects.

The top six flowers for pollinators in my garden at this time of year are: Valerian, Lavender, Buddleia, Verbena bonariensis, Golden Rod and Cosmos. Bees, Butterflies and Hoverflies all seem to love the flowers.

There are lots of lovely grass species appearing in the "nomowzone" but I must admit I find grasses quite a nightmare to identify :(

When I gave B a lift last week to and from the garage to have his car serviced I spotted the most wonderful wildflower meadow on a housing estate in Birmingham. I really couldn't believe my eyes. When I collected my car earlier this week from the same garage I took my camera and stopped off to take a few photos. The meadow is just brimming with corn marigolds, poppies, cornflowers, poppies and ox-eye daisies and there were so many bees and butterflies about. I am so pleased that Councils are at long last starting to plant more wildflowers.

On the way home I also stopped of at a brownfield site I noticed last year. It used to be the site of a pub which was demolished following closure and now the area is being re-colonised by nature. Last year the buddleias there were just full of butterflies but I didn't have my camera with me.

Unfortunately this year, for some reason, there weren't many butterflies about - just one Comma, one Red Admiral and a few whites. So no butterfly photos I am afraid but it is fascinating to see how quickly nature returns to a site.

Blackberries are starting to form. I suspect (and hope) it will be another good year for them this summer :)


Countryside Tales said...

So much to love in this post! I've never had a Marbled Beauty here before so am v envious of yours. Glad the moths are picking up with you :-) Love the Birds Wing too- I've only seen one here once. I love the shot of your leaf cutter bee taking her leaf into the bamboo, but boo hiss to the naughty cuckoo bee :-(
Fantastic shot of the newt. I am wondering where ours have got to and will now keep an eye out in the grow bags! :-)

amanda peters said...

Just to say I have enjoyed your holiday posts, you visited some nice places.
I had the moth trap out last night too, and you have caught quite a few the same as me, which is great as it won't take me to long to I.D them all.
Just love the wild flower meadow, and thanks for the reminder on the Butterfly count.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks very much - glad you enjoyed the post :) I was pleased to find the Bird's Wing - beautiful species. I am going to try and get my son to take some video of the leaf cutter bees this weekend - would like to post it on the blog but not sure how as previous attempts haven't worked :(

I haven't seen a newt before in a growbag!! Always assumed they'd be in the bog garden or meadow area. We have seen them in crevices in stone walls but that seems to be around hibernation time!!

Amanda Peters - Thank you so much :) So glad to hear of the moths you are trapping - I will check out your post in a minute. Hot and humid weather always seems to mean more in the traps :)

Its raining here at the moment but I'm looking forward to doing a few butterfly counts too :)

Lou Mary said...

Last year we had a lovely toad who took up residence in one of our grow bags, no sign of him this year. It is nice that your newt has a nice safe place to hide :)

Grasses do seem daunting, but recently I went on a grass ecology and ID course at essex wildlife trust and it was fab! I can ID at least 10 sp. now! Not many but a start... fairly inexpensive course too.

Wonderful mothy photos, I saw 2 new sp. at the pub where I work last night :)

It is very reassuring that some Councils are trying to be more nature concious. If only they were all like that!!

It is lovely to read your blog again, sorry I haven't for a long time. Life takes over! x

Ragged Robin said...

Lou Mary - Hi its really lovely to hear from you and thanks so much for the comment :) Hope you are still enjoying the course. Don't worry about lack of visits to "Blogland" - tbh if I was working |wouldn't have time for it all either!! (very time consuming!!).

Interesting to hear about your toad - I'll look here. Sadly, although we have newts and frogs, I haven't seen a toad for years!

Thanks for the info re: the grass ecology and id course - it sounds really interesting. I'll keep an eye open on courses run by Warks WLT - I think its a group where a course could really help :)

So agree about Councils - they could all do so much more especially where mowing of grass verges is concerned. But I got in touch with BCC to congratulate them on that meadow.

ps Thunderstorms eventually arrived yesterday - one at dawn and one late pm - good lightning displays :)

Chris Rohrer said...

How's a Cuckoo Bee supposed to survive?:) I LOVE your meadow pics. Might the lack of butterflies mean more rain or maybe that they're going to pick up? I know down here August and September especially are the high points of butterfly magic. And I really like that Elephant Hawkmoth...pretty colors!

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Many thanks Chris. Cuckoo Bees are still lurking and surviving :) The sighting is good news as apparently it suggests the garden is good for bee biodiversity :)

Butterfly numbers have really picked up today - 6 species in the space of a minute :) Ever so hot and sunny here today!