By Alex Ainge
I was tickled pink the other day as my husband was deep in to photographing the wildlife in my front garden (that I share with a lovely neighbour). He kept popping inside to tell me that a landscape gardener had stopped and said that they were looking for work!! I wished I had been there to greet these people and explain that the garden was just as I wanted it-not pleasing to everyone’s eye, especially to the neat and tidy gardener, but packed full of wildlife. Of course, I am aware that the garden needs to be managed and not left in a state of uncontrolled mayhem. Luckily, most verges near me have been left to grow and not mowed, so my plot blends in a bit more!
Here are two visitors captured this week:
Small White Butterfly
My most interesting find has been that of the emerging 6 spot burnet moth. This is a day-flying moth and a very striking one-no little brown job here!!
I then spotted a burnet moth caterpillar inside a cocoon. The caterpillar uses a gland inside its mouth, called a spinneret, to spin silk to make the cocoon. The caterpillars love to munch on Bird’s-foot Trefoil. This plant is often the first to appear on newly mown grass and I have had a plentiful supply. One very interesting fact is that the moth can extract hydrogen cyanide from Bird’s-foot Trefoil and use it as a defence against predators, if attacked.
6 spot burnet moth caterpillar
As I continued observing, I then caught site of a moth that had just emerged from its pupal casing. The black bits on top of the casing are what the emerged moth leaves behind. Now I can watch the moths fly around my garden using their long proboscis to drink nectar from the common knapweed that is abundant here. The moth also thrives in grassland and will lay its eggs on the grass stems. This is a good reason to leave some of your grass long.
I will continue to be on the look-out for more wildlife wonders so…..watch this space!