Bug of the Month is a phrase you just don’t get to use often enough! But the brilliant Buglife charity have launched a new feature entitled just that, in which they will showcase a different invertebrate each month. August’s “bug” is the beautiful Common Green Lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea). As luck would have it, I caught one of these little beauties in the moth trap this month. Buglife’s webpage has a beautiful image of the lacewing, so I fondly imagined I would take a similarly aesthetic photo. It seems however that my particular lacewing had different ideas – I got this one fairly grotty snap of it as I opened the pot, then it was off over the fence, presumably to find a garden with fewer paparazzi. If you’d like to see a much better photo or read more about these beautiful insects, have a look at the Buglife website: https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/bug-month
With a bit of luck, I’ll find future Bugs of the Month in our backyard too, unless they go for ones that require a tidy garden or for very rare ones like the lesser spotted dweeb beetle (I may have made that one up!)
If you’ve never heard of Buglife, they are a fantastic charity that champion Britain’s 40,000+ invertebrate species. The tiny animals they support may not have the “cute factor” of some of the more high profile conservation stories, but are just as important if not more so.
Big drama this weekend when we had to rescue a toad in the garden. That was the plus side, the down side was that it was ourselves we were rescuing him from! In a rare burst of activity, the other half decided to tidy away the garden furniture, which we’d left out in the pouring rain as usual. He moved the table to find this toad had been happily minding his own business beneath it. At first we feared the worst that we’d squashed him, as he lay there playing dead (who knew toads were such good actors). Thankfully he then revived a bit and we stopped our guilt-ridden wailing. Fearing that he might have internal injuries though, the other half spent the next half hour constructing a vivarium to keep him in overnight – complete with buffet of freshly dug up worms. Fortunately the morning check revealed a perfectly healthy, if slightly annoyed toad, keen to return to the wild. So to the sounds of “Born Free” we let him go back into the garden wilderness. Live long and prosper Mr Toad!
This gorgeous Painted Lady butterfly chose Sunday to make an appearance in the garden – in the nick of time to get recorded on the last day of the Big Butterfly Count – perfect timing! Like the hummingbird hawkmoths, these beautiful butterflies are also summer migrants from North Africa and in some years they arrive in their thousands. They only live for a few weeks so it’s amazing that they can emerge in Africa, fly over to the UK and still have time to spend a few days gorging themselves on the nectar in our garden!
Possessing slightly less obvious beauty is this Old Lady moth, which coincidentally I was trying to photograph just as the Painted Lady came flaunting herself around the garden on Sunday morning. About the same size as the Painted Lady, the Old Lady is much more sombrely coloured and clearly less agile, as she flew off with a laboured flapping, as if she was really too heavy to fly. I say “she”, but of course this particular Old Lady could have been a “he” – I didn’t examine it that closely!
Can’t think why but I felt closer to the slightly batty old lady than I did to the bright young thing!
Behold the bounty from a lazy organic garden! We’re a long way from being self-sufficient and I’m not quite sure what we’re going to make out of this particular combo of apples, vaguely rude carrots, peppers, courgettes, borlotti beans and a handful of cucamelons, but it does go to show that you can still grow edible stuff without resorting to pesticides. Of course we are also growing a lot of greenfly, slugs and caterpillars (the Large White butterflies in particular have a penchant for kohlrabi it seems), but their need is probably greater than ours. We should also get a good crop of blackberries if the birds don’t beat us to it and chillies if I remember to water them in the greenhouse.
We would also have had a lot of globe artichokes if, in true lazy fashion, we hadn’t let them get way too big. They would now be too tough to eat, but on the plus side, I think they look great like this with their crazy purple hairdos and the bees absolutely love them.
We did get a good crop of asparagus this year – traditionally you stop harvesting this on the summer solstice, then leave the stems to grow to lay down nutrients for next year. The result is this fluffy asparagus forest, which the insects love too, although we could do without the asparagus beetles getting jiggy in it!
Highlight of a day spent lounging in the back garden was definitely this Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding on the buddleia. These little cuties are just like miniature humming birds, hovering over the flowers with their wings beating so fast you can hear them “humming”. Of course their speed means they are buggers to take photos of – I took about 50 photos today to get just a few half decent ones. They are non-native moths that migrate North from Southern Europe and Africa in the summer – a long way to come for a bit of nectar in Malvern!