Garden Minibeast Safari

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


The dry summer has really helped keep garden growth under control this year but on Saturday I could finally put off the inevitable no longer. It was time to cut the grass. I can hear your shrieks of despair from here but fear not for I had a cunning plan. And that, blog friends, was to take on this venture not alone but instead stood shoulder to strap with my trusty Lumix. Together we would find any opportunity for distraction or diversion and by the grace of the gods, on this of all days, we were not left wanting for targets. First to fall beneath my mighty Leica sword (I think this metaphor may have run its course) was a stunning Grey Dagger caterpillar. I've never seen the species as a moth before let alone in this colourful form and it easily has to rank up there with some of the very best. Does anyone else think there's a little bit of Scotty dog in that face?

P1080956 - Grey Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Next up were a couple of Harvestmen which, contrary to what you might expect, are not spiders at all. They do not spin webs, posses no venom with which to attack and have only a single body segment. I've featured a couple of these previously on the blog here and here but this form was a completely new one to me. A cursory glance through the literature however suggests that I'd be entering a potential minefield if I was to try and tie it down to a specific species so for now at least will keep things at a family level.

P1080946 - Harvestman Spider

P1080939 - Harvestman Spider

On a slightly larger scale there were plenty of butterflies passing through with Speckled Wood and Red Admiral both making brief appearances. It was a moth though which provided the best photographic opportunities when this Large Yellow Underwing leapt from the undergrowth before my mower could do its worst (there's a good argument for keeping your lawn long if ever I've seen one). Fortunately I managed to relocate it safe in a nearby hedge.

P1080934 - Large Yellow Underwing

I'd like to think that this abundance of insect life has something to do with the way in which we've been developing our garden. Through wildlife friendly planting and the provision of areas left to run wild the number and variety of species seen seems to be increasing though there is still work to be done. Over the coming weeks for instance I will be constructing and installing several insect houses to see what else we can attract. Stay tuned for a complete how-to guide, once I've figured out what to do of course.

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