A Frost , A Moth and A Snail

Finally this week, the frosty morning I’ve been waiting for! Jack Frost had visited my beloved teasels leaving them glinting in the early morning sunshine.  The asparagus fronds (long overdue for a haircut)  took on an almost ethereal blue hue, making them far more attractive than they are in their non-wintry state.

Frosty teaselFrosty asparagus

The cold snap didn’t last long though and last night was mild enough to put out the moth trap, although I didn’t hold out much hope. But I got up this morning to the triumphant catch of one moth and one caterpillar!

The caterpillar turned out to be that of an Angle Shades moth – one of my favourites (I’m conscious of sounding a bit like Bruce Forsyth now “You’re my favourite” to every moth I find!) The photo of the caterpillar was taken this morning; next to it is an adult Angle Shades moth snapped in warmer months.

Angle Shades Caterpillar

Common Quaker 2The moth turned out to be a Common Quaker – quite early in the year for this species, which I guess just shows how mild the winter has really been here in Malvern at least. In hunting round to find a suitable leaf for my Quaker to sit on for his photo shoot, I also found this teeny, tiny snail. It was only a couple of millimetres long, so apologies for the less than perfect photograph. I think it may be a Common Chrysalis Snail (Lauria cylindracea), Tiny Snailbut it was so small and I’m so not good at mollusc identification, that I can’t be sure. If anyone has any other ideas, I’m happy to be corrected. There are probably lots of other species of mollusc lurking in the garden – I clearly need to rummage around in the leaf litter more!


One final random fact  – it is apparently a Wolf Moon this weekend.  Not expecting too many wolves to be baying at the moon in Worcestershire this weekend, but I like the idea that each full moon of the year traditionally had its own name.

Garlic Snails

Glass SnailIt may be that I have too much time on my hands as I spent about 10 minutes yesterday waiting for this little snail to come out of its shell, so that I could get this “action shot”! It is almost certainly one of the Glass Snails, named for their glossy, see-through shells. The trouble is there are three very similar species and the identification depends a lot on their smell. The Garlic Snail apparently smells strongly of garlic when disturbed. There is also the brilliantly named Slightly Garlic Snail, which only smells slightly of garlic. Then of course there is the one that doesn’t smell of garlic at all (I really wish they’d called this the Not At All Garlic Snail, but the powers that be went with Draparnaud’s Glass Snail, which shows a serious lack of humour). So not only did I spend 10 minutes watching this snail, I also had to sniff it – I really hope the neighbours didn’t see that one. The trouble is how strong does a garlic smell have to be, before it ceases to be only slightly garlicky? And could I really even smell garlic at all? Perhaps my snail wasn’t “disturbed” enough to be giving off the appropriate whiff of moules mariniere? So I have returned him, unidentified, to his damp corner of the garden, where he can continue to smell (or not smell) of garlic in peace.