Tag Archives: insects

Who’s been sleeping in my hedge?

We could have called this the hedge trimmer’s reward, because it was an hour’s work on the rampant ivy that brought these two creatures to light. Notice how the golden moth’s pattern breaks up its shape, and in the other picture, the grey moth matches the spider’s nest web to its left. The hedge provides a home for these creatures, away from most of their predators, so it will be trimmed, not massacred, every couple of years. More welcoming for insects and than the plain brick wall that was here when we moved in; it houses robins and blackbirds most years.

 

 

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A Pilgrim.

 

terrible london

Not a view of London any of us will have seen, though the crowded streets are still there. Saint Paul’s too, but it has been overshadowed by the temples of Mammon. This picture and text are from ‘London Impressions’ by Alice Meynell, illustrated by William Hyde, pub; Archibald Constable, 1898, available on Project Gutenberg.

Now and then a firefly strays from the vineyard into the streets of an Italian city, and goes quenched in the light of the shops. The stray and waif from ‘the very country’ that comes to London is a silver-white seed with silken spokes or sails. There is no depth of the deep town that this visitant does not penetrate in August—going in, going far, going through, by virtue of its indescribable gentleness.

The firefly has only a wall to cross, but the shining seed comes a long way, a careless alien but a mighty traveller. Indestructibly fragile, the most delicate of all the visible signs of the breeze, it goes to town, makes light of the capital, sets at nought the thoroughfares and the omnibuses, especially flouts the Park, one may suppose, where it does not grow. It hovers and leaps at about the height of first-floor windows, by many a mile of dull drawing-rooms, a country creature quite unconverted to London and undismayed. This flâneur makes as little of our London as his ancestor made of Chaucer’s.

Sometimes it takes a flight on a stronger wind, and its whiteness shows dark with slight shadow against bright clouds, as the whiter snow-flake also looks dark from its shadow side. Then it comes down in a tumult of flight upon the city. It is a very strong little seed-pod, set with arms, legs, or sails—so ingeniously set that though all grow from the top of the pod their points together make a globe; on these it turns a ‘cart-wheel’ like a human boy—like many boys, in fact, it must overtake on its way through the less respectable of the suburbs—only better. Every limb, itself so fine, is feathered with little plumes that are as thin as autumn spider-webs. Nothing steps so delicately as that seed, or upon such extreme tiptoe. But it does not walk far; the air bears the charges of the wild journey.

Thistle-seeds—if thistle-seeds they be—make few and brief halts, then roll their wheel on the stones for a while, and then the wheel is a-wing again. You encounter them in the country, setting out for town on a south wind, and in London there is not a street they do not recklessly stray along. For they use our arbitrary streets; it does not seem that they make a bee-line over the top of the houses, and cross London thus. They use the streets which they treat so lightly. They conform, for the time, to human courses, and stroll down Bond Street and turn up Piccadilly, and go to the Bank on a long west wind—their strolling being done at a certain height, in moderate mid-air.”

They generally travel wildly alone, but now and then you shall see two of them, as you see butterflies go in couples, flitting at leisure at Charing Cross. The extreme ends of their tender plumes have touched and have lightly caught each other. But singly they go by all day, with long rises and long descents as the breeze may sigh, or more quickly on a high level way of theirs. Nothing wilder comes to town—not even the scent of hay on morning winds at market-time in June; for the hay is for cab-horses, and it is at home in the clattering mews, and has a London habit of its own.

White meteor, lost star, bright as a cloud, the seed has many images of its radiant flight. But there is only one thing really like it—the point of light caught by a diamond, with the regular surrounding rays.

I was not best pleased

damsel fly glebe 20.5.19I was not best pleased to find the hosepipe all rolled up and disconnected when I arrived at the garden. The pump is temperamental, the hose likewise, and reassembling it all takes longer than it should. Perhaps we need a few more connectors.

Well, I was feeling as temperamental as the equipment when, on my knees, I caught site of this damsel fly drying its new wings beside the river. I would never have seen it, just walking by. I even had chance to grab the phone from my coat and snap! These creatures do not sit still for long once the new life is surging through their veins, so I was grateful to have had a good look and to be able to share it with you.

Cerura vinula? Mind the bugs don’t bite!

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No, it didn’t bite!

But Cerura vinula – it almost sounds like a scream! The first the adults knew about them was a screaming 5 year old, running to her mother, pointing to her chest, where 2 impressive caterpillars were firmly attached to her teeshirt.

Margaret had been hiding in the osier bed, and the caterpillars must have climbed on board from there. Perhaps they thought the pink shirt looked tasty.

Well, once the adults had established that the creatures were harmless to children the girls were able to enjoy them. Such a big caterpillar in a small palm, and such startling colour pattern. ideal camouflage among the leaves.

The adult is called a puss moth, but the caterpillar with its sinister forked tail and little hump is no sort of kitten at all.

Everyone was finally delighted with the cerurae!

photo credit

 

Dragons in the House

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I’ve never known that before, said Mrs T at day’s end, ‘A dragonfly in the house.’ A few hours before we had caught a frantic red one using a glass and postcard, a method that seems to prevent harm to minibeasts trapped indoors.

What Mrs T did not know was that there was another dragonfly, a blue one, just above her head. This one was sleepy; after all, it was dark outside and dragonflies are all eyes! So sleepy was it that it walked onto my finger, gripping tight with those six strong feet. I passed it over to Mrs T’s index finger where it sat until we let it outside. It sat on the window for at least two hours, when I went to bed.

Two dragonflies in the house on one day, and one gentle enough to sit on fingers so we could admire it properly. Was that not a good day? (Sorry for a poor quality photo, taken on an old phone.)