Category Archives: Butterflies

Trails of Destruction

This isn’t going to be a sad post. It is going to be quite an interesting post, I just need to tell you about what happened yesterday.

You remember the little black lamb that I showed you a few days ago? Well sadly I found him dead on the roadside, hit by a car. It happens and I guess he was always going to be the last one that they saw.

Black SheepIf you walk in the countryside you get used to seeing  Badgers, Foxes and Rabbits lying by the roadside and this is not really any different but I did feel sorry for him.

What really spoilt my day was what happened next. His Mum was not going to leave her dead lamb and she was wandering up and down a busy road with her other lamb trotting along behind her, it was pretty obvious that there was going to be another accident if we didn’t get her off the road and I got met with a bit of a  negative response.

Eventually Jeremy (for that was his name) came out and picked up his dead lamb and moved the others to safety. So that was that.

I hear a lot of, “Oh you townies just don’t understand our country ways,” but I do.

Sorry little lamb, I should have stolen you.

Black Sheep

Then my day picked up, when I went to see the little dog downstairs.

Fizz is a philosopher and she ought to be studied in universities. She is a bit like that Frenchman, Jean Paul Sartre but brighter and she doesn’t use so many words, in fact her whole philosophical argument could be summed up in a single sentence.

“The world is full of stuff that is not Fizz but that is not important.”

It is perhaps not as complex as existentialism but it is true and it helps me to exist.

So off we went to La La Land…..

Dr FizzFizz knows some nice places to walk and she can make even an angry heart forget.

Trail

Orange TipHelp me little animal for I have been hurt.

Orange TipAre you magic? How come you are there when I need you? Why do you even exist?

Orange TipThank you and here, have a nice flower.

Orange TipHello!

Was that butterfly called Fizz?

I don’t think so.

FizzI am going to crawl under the gate now.

If you follow me you can tickle my tummy.

I want to look at flowers.

Bush VetchBush Vetch, It’s a pea and so it has those grab onto anything tendrils and I think that it is wonderful. It is one of those plants that helps to make the jungle an absolute mess.

Bush Vetch

Bush VetchI can’t wait forever.

Fizz

Fizz

Bush VetchOkay I am just going to take a few moments out to check that they did her hair cut properly. Sometimes people are slackers and they miss the little important bits, you know what I mean?

Fizz

Fizz

FizzEverything seems to be in order and they have done a good job.

Fizz

FizzGet down little Monkey! I am fixed.

FizzI am ready to begin my tale.

We are walking along the track, observing nature and playing games with the flowers….

Dog’s Mercury,

Dogs MercuryThis is the female of the species.

Dogs MercuryThis is a Dog in Mercury.

Dogs MercuryAll right! I am fixed all ready.

Dogs MercuryAs we are walking along I have been noticing signs of animal activity. Little holes everywhere.

Snuffle HolesIn my mind I am seeing “snuffle holes.” These are little holes that Badger’s make as they dig for worms. They sometimes look like little animal burrows but they don’t go anywhere, they are only about six to eight inches deep.

There is not much that is unusual about this. We are very close to a Badger main sett and there is a lot of activity further along the track but there is a lot here and I am a bit surprised because we are still a way from the sett. Very active Badgers, I think.

Then I noticed something beside this hole.

Wild ArumThis isn’t actually a “snuffle hole,” this one is where an animal has dug up and eaten the root of Wild Arum.

Badgers do eat the roots of Wild Arum. I have read of this described as a winter activity when food is short and we are in Badger country.

This is Wild Arum (Arum maculatum)

Wild ArumTo us this is a deadly poisonous plant. Every part of it contains toxins that can kill a Human. The reason that it doesn’t kill people is that those toxins cause immediate and painful burns and blisters and if we accidentally put it in our mouths then we quickly spit it out again.

However we can eat it. The roots are edible but they need preparation (I think it is roasting but that is only from memory). This is not a good one to eat unless you are starving  but remember that most animals are starving.

Wild ArumThis next one is very edible and in fact if you don’t eat this then you are an American Donkey (an Ass).

Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic

Wild GarlicThis is Wild Garlic.

(In fact the Americans do not use the word Ass to describe a Donkey but this is only because they have not mastered the English language and particularly spelling, to me “American Donkey” is just a euphemism, what I meant was that you would be a fool not to eat this wonderful herb 🙂 I said it crudely because I like crude it is very different from rude but I don’t like crudities, I prefer to dunk soft white bread into my soup. Consider this to be my soup. There are some very beautiful and expressive words in the English language and you would have to be an American Donkey to diminish them, you don’t always have to use them.)

Wild GarlicThen…

Here is another one.

Uprootedand another…

Uprootedand another….

Uprootedand another….

UprootedThis is getting weird. Something has walked along this track and systematically and selectively dug up and ate every Arum Lily that it could find. I saw more than thirty of these holes and photographed them.

What on earth does this?

If you know me then you might think, “Colin would know the answer,” but Colin does not know the answer.

PhilosopherStop it. I can see your beauty.

PhilosopherI choose my stuff carefully, I am not a fool and I love you.

PhilosopherI am trying to concentrate.

Something is eating our flowers.

We need to put our tracker hats on, Badgers are obviously in the frame but something doesn’t ring true. The other animal that would do this is Wild Boar and I know that they are also here.

printThese prints are partial, the ground has been quite hard. A Boar has dew claws that leave an impression behind the hooves and I can’t see them, but they could be Boar (or Sheep or Deer) I don’t know.

PrintIt is all a bit weird.

Mystery

Mystery

Mystery

MysterySo I don’t know what to say about all of this, except…

IdiotLet me take you by the hand and lead you through a place that doesn’t have any streets, I will show you something that will make you change your mind.

Fizz

Red Campion

Herb Robert

Greater StitchwortI wrote this through the night and it is now Friday. Yesterday we had a General Election in the UK. I have no idea who won.

Good people never win. Niceness isn’t a winning trait and I already know that the worst man in the country is now our President. That is the failing of democracy. Let them come into the Jungle and we will see who wins.

I haven’t told you about this but I once lived for a year with a Member of Parliament. It’s okay, my wife knew about it. He was a decent man and a friend who helped me out of a jam but I could tell you some stories (and they would include naked MPs, another day perhaps 🙂  but probably not)

One more deep breath and then I will go and see who is now my Glorious Leader.

Orange Tip

Yellow Archangel

Bluebells

Get out of the mud.Disrespect

The Leader is coming 🙂

Advertisements

Playing with Butterflies

It is a miserable one today. A cold wind has blown in from somewhere and brought lots of cloud with it.

It is a good day to demonstrate my Butterfly handling technique. They will be at my mercy.

The poor little things can’t do anything about it, they need sunshine, they need to be warm to fly and they will be very lethargic today.

The first butterfly that we found was a female Orange Tip.

Orange tip butterflyThe first trick is the weather. I have been out at two o’clock on a sunny afternoon and can not get anywhere near them. I am already very close to this one and she would have flown away if she could, she is too cold and I can do what I want with her.

Now. You must not touch her in any way,  only she may touch you. She is very easy to break and we are big and clumsy.

Just put your finger right in front of her, minding her antennae and legs and just depress the flower a little bit.

You can talk about politics or the economy but not war, it has to be gentle depression.

As the flower gives way under her feet she will step forward onto your finger and once her front feet are on you can just roll your finger under her and you have her.Orange tip Butterfly I don’t exactly have this one where I wanted. I wanted her on my finger tip for display purposes but she has crawled onto my knuckle and I can’t move her. This will do.

Orange tip ButterflyIt is a butterfly Fizz.

It is a butterfly Fizz.

Orange tip ButterflyI have picked this one up because she was in deep shade, I am going to move her into the sunshine. As soon as she feels the sun she will open her wings and bask and she will fly away. It will only take about two seconds for her to warm up enough to fly so I have to get lucky with my photographs.

Orange tip Butterfly

Orange tip Butterfly

Orange tip ButterflyAnd she has gone.

The pictures aren’t great but never mind we will try again later.

You can only do this with the white ones (any of the whites). This little Speckled Wood was flitting all over the place, a little bit of cloud doesn’t bother him.

Speckled WoodIt is simply because white reflects light and heat and dark colours like brown absorb it and the Speckled Wood warms up much easier than the Orange Tip and flies on much cooler days.

I have never been able to approach or pick up a Speckled Wood, or any of the other dark ones. Sometimes they will land on me by chance and of course if you raise them as your own you can release them but that is as good as it gets.

Now I am just going to leave the butterflies for a moment because I have noticed the seed pods of that flower she was sitting on and I want those photographs. It is Garlic Mustard.

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Garlic MustardThank you for indulging me, I needed those photographs for my files.

I have just noticed another flower.

Have you ever wondered where Primroses go when they die?

Hmmm… a small lack of floral compassion perhaps?

Anyway I have and I care. I want to know. So I am choosing a nice female plant with pin flowers…

PrimroseI am going to perform a couple of autopsies on her dead sisters.

Primrose

Primrose

Primrose

PrimroseVery interesting, this is how we find things out.

Perhaps if I sewed them back together and passed electricity through them, then I could reanimate them. Now which bit went with which?

Back to the butterflies and we have found another Orange Tip, this one is a male.

Just in case there is anyone in the world who wonders how I can tell the male from the female. Well, it is only the male who actually has orange tips to his wings (On the inside). With a few years of practice and an element of expertise in this field absolutely anyone can tell the difference.

Orange Tip

Orange TipI am not going to try and pick this one up. He is as docile as the female was and I could do what I wanted but….

Okay he is in the shade but the whole world is in the shade, the sun is behind a cloud and we are in the open this time. Plus I would much prefer to photograph him on a plant than in my hand. This time he is on Cow Parsley.

Cow Parsley is absolutely brilliant and provides a mass spectacle to rival the Bluebells. It really is beautiful but we will do that in a bit.

What I am going to do is stand beside him and wait for the sun to come out again, it will take twenty five minutes and then I will fail 🙂

There is a reason why I like to do this sort of stuff alone. Sometimes if I am waiting for a bird or animal I might wait for hours, I sustain myself by imagining the shot that I might get if everything works.

I like to walk with other people and talk about flowers and nature and stuff but I don’t try and take photographs. I have tried and they always say, “Go on, get what you need, I am happy,” but I can only get guilt, maybe I will do it once for twenty minutes or so but then when I want to do it again, I just can’t.

Nobody just wants to stand and look at me for hours on end… almost nobody.

This is the reason that I work with an Air Head. (I couldn’t have a better companion/assistant)

She understands the importance of botanical research, she understands my interest in  entomology, she understands that big game hunters have to make a living just as butterfly collectors do and she will make any sacrifice. She is priceless.

PricelessOh dear, he is staring at a bush again. I think that he is looking for his marbles and we just have to wait.

(He never finds them)


Best Dog in the world, that one.

Here we go.

Orange Tip

Orange Tip

Orange TipThat’s a fail. I have taken much better pictures than that. Never mind, the Dog got walked.

I will have to wind this up now or my daily post will take two days to write. Take care.

Old Man Dancing

Dances with Wolves

I am so sorry that I have been away from the blog this month. There was a wolf at my door and you know how much I like wolves, I got distracted.

He has  gone now. I gave him a little dog that I found in the garden and that seemed to fill his tummy nicely,

(I have not really fed Fizz to a wolf)

Anyway Wolfie has gone and we would like to get back to nature. I will try to post every day for a while, to make up for my recent absence.

So much has been happening and there is a lot to blog about.

I am glad to find that I have not lost my touch with the Faeries.

Orange Tip

Orange Tip

Orange TipTomorrow we could go up and look at the Bluebell woods.

BluebellOr we could video Fizz searching for her yellow ball amongst the Dandelions.

The WinnerThe world has turned beautiful.

Let me put this little animal down….

Orange Tip

Whoa! Hold on! I’ll get a ladder.Orange TipThat plant that I am putting him on is Garlic Mustard.

Garlic MustardNext to Wild Garlic it is one of the tastiest herbs around at the moment. This is one of the very best reasons to get into foraging. Picked fresh it is better than anything that you could buy in the supermarket. Foraging is not just about nettles and Dandelions, some of it is Caviar (without the fishy taste) and you just can’t buy it in the shops.

It is growing in abundance in my neck of the woods and deserves a post of it’s own.

Garlic MustardOh lookit! A brown Faerie.

Speckled WoodThat would be a Speckled Wood.

Speckled WoodIt is so nice to have them back.

I am going to cut this post short because I want to post it tonight.

Sometimes Fizz and I get ourselves into some pretty dangerous situations.

DangerI tend to shut other people out in case they get hurt by the terrible dangers that we have to face.

Terrible DangerSo I haven’t been reading my email or attending to anything just recently and I am sorry if I seemed to be ignoring you. I will be back on top of everything tomorrow.

I had a stroke of luck and came out on top. I don’t have to leave the farm or Fizz, or do anything that I don’t want to do. So it goes.

All right, Cutie Pie?

Cutie PieI did not fail to notice that you played a good game back there and that you are a reasonable companion animal 🙂

Tonto

Defamation of Character!

As you probably realised I have been away for a few days, gathering botanical specimens for the benefit of our understanding and not what Fizz said, that is just her impish sense of fun.

Impish sense of funI was not lying in a ditch, I was in the pink.

Starting with pinks, I have got Primroses.
PrimroseNot pins or thrums or even yellow ones, I have got pink Primroses.

Pink Primrose

Pink PrimroseThis is the real thing, not a hybrid or garden escapee, this is the pink form of Primula vulgaris subspecies vulgaris a pink wild Primrose. They are not that rare but I didn’t have pictures and now I do 🙂

Pink Primrose

Pink Primrose

Pink Primrose

Pink PrimroseNow put pink out of your mind or the colours might clash.

This next one was a wonderful find.

I have been walking miles to get photographs of the various stages of Coltsfoot. A couple of days ago I was walking back from just such an expedition when we came to the gate.

This is where Fizz likes to play “The Gate Game.”
The Gate GameThis particular gate is by the side of a track we regularly walk and it is very close to home.

The rules of the game are simple. She runs under the gate with the ball and sits there looking at me, she won’t budge. If I climb over the gate she runs back under, to the other side and we play again. She can play this game for a long time. It is so funny. (Her impish sense of fun, again)

This time when I climbed over, I forgot all about her and didn’t bother coming back.

Coltsfoot on my doorstep.
ColtsfootI have shown you the flower, it is a beautiful flower but that’s not it.

We had been out for about three hours in bright sunshine and we hadn’t seen an insect, not even a Butterfly. The Coltsfoot was swarming with them.

I need these photographs again for Easy Wildflowers. It is okay to say, “Provides a valuable source of nectar and pollen early in the year” but it is much better to have photographs.

Honey Bees.
Honey BeeWhen I photograph insects I really want to get the eyes and it can get very frustrating trying to capture Bees on Thistles or Dandelions because they bury their faces in the flower. Coltsfoot is lovely and flat and it doesn’t give them anywhere to hide.

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Moving on…Honey BeeThere were lot’s of Butterflies but all of them Small Tortoiseshells and some of them were quite badly torn so today I will move past them quite quickly. (We will have lots of Butterflies later)

Small Tortoiseshell(Butterfly nectaring on Coltsfoot)

I just want to show you one more insect today. This next one is a Hover Fly, called a Drone Fly it is a Bee mimic.

This is Eristalis tenex.

You can tell it is a Hover Fly and not a Bee because it only has two wings and it has a thick waist.

Common Drone FlyIt has huge eyes that would meet in the middle if it were a male, this one is female and it has stubby little antennae.

Common Drone FlyIt is not quite so easy to get it to species, they can vary in colour a lot.

This is Eristalis tenex because it has a banana shaped back leg (curved rear tibia).

Eristalis tenexThe hairs on it’s back legs are longer in the centre of each section and that is indicative of species.

Eristalis tenexIf you look closely there are two lines of fine hair running down it’s eyes. That is probably not very clear unless you are looking for it.

Eristalis tenexOh dear. Am I boring you?

Bored FizzJust one more little flower today.

I have been fretting over this one. It is already in flower and I haven’t put it on EW yet. There are two subspecies and I wanted the pictures to show the difference. This is the flower in question.

The Ivy-leaved Speedwell.

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

You have to look closelyIvy-leaved Speedwell

Really closely.Ivy-leaved Speedwell

There it is.Ivy-leaved Speedwell

A British pond coin is about the same size as a wedding ring and an Ivy-leaved Speedwell is the same size as the “G” in “REG.”Ivy-leaved SpeedwellInside the flower there are even tinier bits (smaller than Fizz) and what I have been looking for is a picture of the anthers just before they open to produce pollen. There is a fairly small window of opportunity.

If the anthers are bright blue, before they get covered with white pollen and all the other bits add up then it is Veronica hederifolia subspecies hederifolia and that is what I think that I have got here.

Ivy leaved speedwellDoes it really matter? Will anybody ever look?

What do you think Fizz?

FizzFizz thinks that we should play ball.

Happy Face

It is like a Spring day out there today. It is like it is March and the sun is shining 🙂

Spring dayIn March the Butterflies come back and so today we are going out to look for them.

Fizz has got her happy face on.

Happy faceI haven’t seen that face for a long time. She is not really happy (well, she is always happy) she is hot and she is panting and it hasn’t been hot for a very long time.

Happy face 2It didn’t take us long to find a Butterfly. This is a Red Admiral.

Red AdmiralThe Red Admiral is a migrant species that arrives here in the UK in May and June flying in from Europe and North Africa.

It is only fairly recently that it has been considered a resident species, they don’t like our cold winters.

Butterfly Conservation says on it’s website, “There is an indication that numbers have increased in recent years and that overwintering has occurred in the far south of England.” That needs updating.

This animal has survived the winter in Gloucestershire and hopefully I will soon see a lot more. Hurrah for global warming 🙂

Red AdmiralIt does look a bit tatty but so would you if you had been outside all winter.

We better find it some nectar plants. You can try some of these.

Lesser Celandine.
Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine
Dandelion
Dandelion

Common Field-speedwellCommon Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwellThere is another one, a Small Tortoiseshell.

Small TortoiseshellOh Joy. The flowers are flowering, the Butterflies are coming back and Fizz has got her happy face on.

Primrose
Primrose

ColtsfootColtsfootNow Fizz and I are tired of all this sunshine and Butterflies and flowers.

Tired FizzWe are going up on the bank to get our photographs taken with the sheep.

Interested FizzOn the way we find another little flower that we haven’t seen yet this year.

This is Hairy Biittercress.

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy BittercressIt’s good for Butterflies.

Okay, let’s make some selfies.

Selfie 1

Selfie 2

Everybody crowd in.Selfie 3Our shadows are getting very short, mine used to be about ten sheep long.

I have written about Stellaria media today but I have had to leave quite a lot of important stuff out because I just didn’t have the photographs. I haven’t seen it in flower yet but it won’t be long and then I shall get the pictures and update the post.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Stellaria media, The Common Chickweed

Common Chickweed is a member of the Stellaria genus of flowers. It is a very small flower, about a quarter of an inch in diameter (6-9 mm) and in common with other Stellaria species it has five white petals.

The  five petals of Stellaria media are divided right down to the base, giving the flower the  appearance of ten petals and note that the petals of Common Chickweed are shorter or no longer than the sepals and that the sepals are hairy.

(Common Chickweed, Stellaria media 6-9 mm)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Compare Common Chickweed to two other Stellaria species that are commonly found here.

(Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea 7-12 mm)
Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria geminea)

(Greater Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea 15-25 mm)
Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)Common Chickweed has three styles that sit on a green ovary. The number of stamens can vary from three to eight.

(Stellaria media, 3 stamens)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

(Stellaria media, 8 stamens)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Common Chickweed has a weak stem, it will often trail along the ground but it seldom rises more that about eight inches. It is a small plant but if you find it growing in any quantity it is worth remembering that it is a tasty edible. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)The leaves are oval and smooth edged with a point at the tip, they grow in opposite pairs along the stem. Leaves at the base of the plant have quite long stalks and toward the top they are stalkless.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Common Chickweed has a tradition of use in herbal medicine and is most commonly used to treat skin conditions, cuts, bruises and burns

It is a valuable wildlife plant, a food plant to several moth species it is probably best known as being favoured by birds. Chickens eat both the plant and the seeds and that is how it gets it’s name, many small birds like finches eat the seeds and you can also feed it to cage birds.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)   Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)   Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) Taxonomy

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Caryophyllales

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Genus: Stellaria

Species: Stellaria media

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Wildflowers in the Springtime 🙂

Interesting things you can do with a Butterfly

Butterflies are not just for looking at 🙂

This is a post for the friends that I have made in the last few months, friends who have never seen this blog in the summertime.

Winter is so difficult for nature bloggers, it’s a wonder that we post anything. There is a different world coming and it is beautiful.

Butterflies have been big in my world this weekend. On Saturday I discovered a beautiful Small Tortoiseshell overwintering in my flat.

Small Tortoiseshell

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day here and while I was out a Comma flew in front of me.

This isn’t the one that I saw yesterday, that was over a hedge and lost in a field almost as soon as I saw it. This is just a picture of another Comma.
CommaIt is still much too early for Butterflies, there are no nectar plants about yet but it is okay they will just go back to sleep for a bit.

The Butterflies will be here in four weeks. It isn’t very long to wait.

It is not very unusual to see Butterflies here in the winter. Whilst many species overwinter as Caterpillars or as a Chrysalis we have five local species that overwinter as adult butterflies and they can wake up and have a little fly around on any warm winters day.

The other three are: The Red Admiral.

Red Admiral

The Brimstone.BrimstoneThe Peacock.

Peacock Butterfly

So what can you do with Butterflies besides look at them?

You can abduct them and raise them as your own 🙂

The Small Tortoiseshell is probably the first one that you will find.

Small Tortoiseshell LarvaThese are little yellow caterpillars that live in colonies on Stinging Nettles. If you want to try raising Butterflies in a different part of the world, pick a species that has an easy to obtain food plant, they eat a lot.

I made some mistakes when raising these and so I shall share the wisdom gained.

I chose large caterpillars, thinking that they would be quicker to raise than little ones. Most of my Caterpillars died and it wasn’t that much fun.

They died because they had already been attacked before I found them. In the wild there are a lot of insects that lay their eggs in Caterpillars and the larva grow inside and eat the Caterpillar.

This is a Tachinid fly injecting it’s eggs into a Small Tortoiseshell Caterpillar.

Tachinid

Pelatachina tibialis, Nasty little beast.
Pelatachina tibialisSo I did successfully raise Small Tortoiseshells but it wasn’t as much fun as I had hoped. Lesson Learnt, I went out to collect some Peacock Larvae.

Take the smallest ones that you can find, the less time they have been in the wild the less chance that they will have been got at.

Peacocks are the little black ones that also live on Stinging Nettles.

Peacock LarvaI only took a few, I thought, it turned out that I had about forty in my little jar and from those I released thirty three Butterflies, many more than would have made it if I had left them in the wild.

Peacock LarvaNow you can buy Butterfly raising kits. I don’t really like these. The most common species is the Painted Lady and this is because the Painted Lady can eat artificial food. So you generally get five little Caterpillars in  a jar and the bottom of the jar is smeared with artificial food, there is a piece of paper under the lid for them to attach themselves to and the jar is otherwise empty.

This is a horrible way to raise Caterpillars, in an empty jar. It deprives them of their youth. I am going to show you that Caterpillars are lively, intelligent animals. They have a social structure and they get great joy from swinging about in the jungle that is their home.

This is how I am going to do it.

Make them a home.

Caterpillar HouseThe tray of mud is because the nettles will need water but I can’t put them in water or the Caterpillars will drown themselves.

Caterpillar House

Caterpillar HouseThat is it. You don’t really have to worry about the Caterpillars escaping, they will stay on the food plant so long as you keep them provided with fresh greens.

I admit, I came down one morning and found this.

Peacock LarvaWhat on earth is going on here?

We are going to join the circus.

You bloomin’ well are not!

They had plenty of leaves they just weren’t fresh enough for them. You do have to keep on top of them.

Most of the time they like to hang together.

Peacock LarvaAlthough you do get the odd little one that has a mind of it’s own.

Peacock LarvaThey grow very quickly and they moult their skin four times. Each time that they moult there is a bigger and more beautiful Caterpillar inside.

Peacock LarvaThose are not dead baby Caterpillars in the next picture, they are just the discarded skins. The little black spots are called frasse and they are Caterpillar poo. They eat a lot, so guess what else they do a lot 🙂

Peacock LarvaYou need to clean them out regularly as well as change their leaves.

Peacock Larva

Peacock LarvaIt won’t be long before you want to take these beautiful animals out for a photo shoot.

Peacock Larva

Peacock Larva

Peacock LarvaNow things are about to get interesting and we have a problem.

When they are in their final moult they will decide to leave the food plant. They are going to shed their skin one more time but this time there will be a chrysalis inside and so now they have done eating and they need to spread out.

My solution was to put them in my kitchen cupboard. (This might be a problem if you live with a partner)

Peacock Larva nest

Peacock LarvaMy clever little animals knew what was expected of them and they hung themselves all around their new home.

Peacock Larva

Peacock Larva

Watch the Caterpillar shed it’s skin one last time. I have speeded this up X4 because the whole process took six minutes.

The Caterpillars now make themselves a little sticky pad of silk to hang from and the most critical moment of this final moult is the very last bit when the chrysalis must abandon it’s old skin and attach itself to the silk pad. That is what all the twisting at the end of this video is about.


What happens now is a miracle. The Caterpillar will completely dissolve inside it’s chrysalis, only a few cells remain and from these cells a Butterfly grows. Something really wonderful.

Peacock Chrysalis

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock ButterflyThis next video is speeded up x2.


Now I just have to show you how to pick up a Butterfly and then we can let them go.

Never touch it’s wings. They are covered with very fine scales that will be displaced if you try to pick it up that way, the Butterfly needs these scales, they are not just for shimmering colour.

Put your hand in front of the Butterfly and invite it to step on.

Orange TipSo long as you are known to the Butterflies this works every time.

If the Butterflies don’t know who you are then try rescuing a Butterfly Princess from the long grass, this will earn you a reputation  as a friend of the Butterflies and then it will be easy.

Green-veined White

Green-veined WhiteNow it is time to say goodbye.

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock ButterflyToday the sun is shining and it feels like April. Fizz and I are going to look for Butterflies.

Shepherd’s Warning

It wasn’t a good day to be a shepherd. It wasn’t a good day to be anything really.

It started off very nicely.

SunriseThen the sky turned black and the rain started. It was a very short day anyway and now it is night and gales are buffeting the farm and the rain is pounding against my windows.

I am all cosy indoors but all of my little animals are living out there and it is just another winter’s night.

I wrote about Bird’s-foot Trefoil today and I will show you that in a bit, first I thought we could look at some moths. I would have liked to put more into my flower post but that was supposed to be about flowers.

Day flying moths, some of them are just as pretty as the butterflies.

This is a Speckled Yellow moth (Pseudopanthera macularia). It’s caterpillars feed on Wood Sage and it is common in open woodland.

Speckled YellowThis next beauty is a Green Silver-lines (Pseudoips prasinana). Another woodland moth, this one favours Oak and Birch trees.

Green Silver-lines

Green Silver-linesThis next one isn’t a moth at all, yet but it will be. It looks a bit like an old Birch catkin.

Scalloped Hook-tipThis is the caterpillar of a Scalloped Hook-tip Moth ( Falcaria lacertinaria) and it feeds on Birch, naturally.

Scalloped Hook-tipThis next one is called a Silver Y moth (Autographa gamma) , try and guess Y.

This is a summer visitor arriving in the UK from May onwards it comes from Southern Europe. It  is not a fussy eater, Bedstraws, Nettles, Clovers, it also likes Peas and Cabbage.

Silver Y

Silver YIf we have another day like today then I will post more moths tomorrow. Here are my flowers.

Lotus corniculatus, The Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus) Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)This is a flower of grassland. It grows in meadows and on heaths in forest rides and if you are very lucky, in your garden.

Bird’s-foot Trefoil is very variable in size. Amongst short grass the small flowers may be just inches off the ground.

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)In long grass it can grow to about twenty inches. It seems to be able to flower at whatever height the surrounding plants are rising to.

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)In many parts of the world Bird’s-foot Trefoil is grown as an animal fodder and I read that it can yield up to four tons of hay per acre. That is difficult to comprehend when you see the tiny flowers growing in short cropped grass.

The name Bird’s-foot comes from the seed pods which are claw like and resemble a Bird’s foot. Another popular name for this plant is Granny’s Toenails.

Bird's-foot Trefoil seed pods (lotus corniculatus) Bird's-foot Trefoil seed pods (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil seed pods (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil seed pods (lotus corniculatus)The Trefoil part of the name is a reference to the leaves. Each leaf is actually made up of five leaflets but two of these are at the base of the mid rib and the remaining three form the trefoil at the end of the leaf.

Bird's-foot Trefoil leaves (lotus corniculatus)New buds continually form and grow from the centre of existing leaves, which makes it difficult to study the form and shape of the plant.

Bird's-foot Trefoil leaves (lotus corniculatus)It has a squarish stem.

Bird's-foot Trefoil leaves and stem (lotus corniculatus)It also has a very deep tap root (up to three feet deep) that allows it to thrive on poorer soils.

Bird’s-foot Trefoil is a very important wildlife plant and as such a wonderful addition to any garden. It is especially valuable as a larval food plant for many of our most beautiful Moths and Butterflies including the Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Silver Studded Blue and these Common Blues.

Common Blue on Bird's-foot Trefoil Common Blue on Bird's-foot Trefoil   Common Blue on Bird's-foot Trefoil   Common Blue on Bird's-foot TrefoilAmongst the Moths it is a larval food plant for the Six-spot Burnet and for this next one the Burnet Companion.

Burnet Companion on Bird's-foot Trefoil

Burnet Companion on Bird's-foot TrefoilThe Bird’s-foot Trefoil is a member of the Pea family, known as the Fabaceae and sometimes by the older name of the Leguminosae.

It is native to the UK, Eurasia and North Africa.

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus) Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)   Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Fabales

Family: Fabaceae

Genus: Lotus

Species: Lotus corniculatus

Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers (lotus corniculatus)Wildflowers in winter.