Tag Archive: Garden Tiger


On a general note…

Here in Belfast the sun’s coming out.

At last.

I arrived back home from Newcastle on Friday and am getting caught up on blogging. It’s been a cracker holiday – plenty of sunshine and of course plenty of butterflies, moths and birds.

There’s a LOT to catch up on as regards my rearing projects. If you remember, at the end of June, I picked up:

  • 1 Ruby Tiger caterpillar
  • 2 Garden Tiger caterpillars
  • 26 Cinnabar eggs

And there’s good news and bad news.

  • The Ruby Tiger (“Ron”) spun a cocoon on the day I collected him, pupated a few days later, and emerged as a healthy adult on 13 July. I released him where I found him, back in Murlough.
  • I fed the Garden Tigers (Ferrari and Maclaren) on hawks-beard, sorrel, dock and dandelion for a week, after which Ferrari escaped and hasn’t been seen since. (I hope he got out through a window.) Mac spun a cocoon and pupated for 17 days before emerging as an absolutely magnificent moth on 18 July. I released him the next day.
  • Between 22 and 25 Cinnabars hatched out but as I was away in Scotland I was unable to muck out the jar (and hadn’t the heart to lay the task upon my sister) and in the filthy conditions I suspect a bacterial infection started. As they grew (devouring Ragwort leaves) they got sick and died one by one (I won’t go into graphic details) until I only had 3 left. At this point I released them back into Murlough to give them a fighting chance, although I expect it was too late and they were already infected. So I tried again, collecting just four caterpillars from Murlough and this time there isn’t a sick caterpillar in sight. All four have completed their feeding; two have pupated and two are about to. They’ll hibernate as pupae over the winter and emerge next June. One thing’s for sure, I’m never collecting a batch of eggs again!

And here they are (hover over pics to see info):

13JUL11 Ruby Tiger

18JUL11 Garden Tiger

19JUL11 Garden Tiger

28JUL11 Cinnabar caterpillars

28JUL11 Cinnabar pupa

So what of the month ahead? Well, I’m starting to warm to the world of birdwatching, and I’m hoping to see the winter waders arrive at Dundrum Bay and Belfast Harbour, as well as seeing the terns before they leave. On the butterfly front, I’m trying to slow down and focus on butterfly behaviour rather than just running around recording which, although necessary, runs the risk of turning a beautiful creature into a number on a page. I’m hoping to go on a BCNI outing on 20 August to see the Wall butterfly at Sheepland  near Ardglass, and of course I’ll be keeping an eye out for rare migrants like the Clouded Yellow (only one seen here so far this year) and Comma. Plus, the moths are continuing to dazzle: last night in the garden I had 6 Mother of Pearl, a Burnished Brass, a Marbled Beauty (new) and a Swallowtailed Moth.

All the photos I’ve posted on this website are available at 12 or 14MP resolution – just drop me an email: periodicsam@hotmail.co.uk

Species study 2, project B: Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)
Species study 5, project B: Garden Tiger (Arctia caja)
Species study 15, project A: Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae)

Tout arrive!

Everything’s happening! The first piece of news is that yesterday I saw 30 Ringlets in one field in Glencairn Park, near my house in Belfast! That’s my 15th butterfly species – and I thought I’d caught up with Richella Duggan (www.butterflyblog2011.com) until I looked today and saw she’d grabbed 4 more species!

In other news, I have about 4 caterpillar projects going on at the minute, some of which I mentioned in a previous entry:

  • My two Garden Tiger caterpillars (Ferrari and Maclaren) are still gorging themselves on dandelion leaves…
  • My Ruby Tiger (Ron) pupated on Wednesday, 3 days after spinning the cocoon…
  • My Cinnabar eggs have all hatched this morning!!! There’s at least 20 of them – I won’t be alble to count them properly until they’ve grown a bit as they’re so tiny that I can’t handle them…
  • And on top of all that there’s an egg on my apple sapling (Seth) that looks about to hatch. The brown head of the caterpillar is visible through the eggshell, so it could well be Diurnea fagella, like the pupa I overwintered recently.

And today (or tomorrow)  I’m off to Murlough to try and find a Common Blue and a Meadow Brown and with an extreme amount of good fortune, our regular migrants The Admiral And Lady. My dad (God bless him) got me a new camera since my old one packed in, so I’ll be trying it out this weekend.

I’ve got some BEAUTIFUL photos of the Cinnabar eggs so I’ll be updating this blog as soon as I can get them on the computer.

2011 BUTTERFLIES: 15

UPDATE: Foties!!!!

Species study 2, project B: Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)
Species study 5, project B: Garden Tiger (Arctia caja)
Species study 15, project A: Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae)

19JUN11 Small Elephant Hawkmoth

Apologies for the image quality – but isn’t that a beautiful moth?

It was certainly worth getting up at 3:15 am for! This Small Elephant Hawkmoth was feeding on honeysuckle in Murlough yesterday morning.

My camera is playing up at the moment and the photos come out covered in white lines. Must be a fault with the CCD chip. The videos were fine until I shook the camera a bit too hard and now it looks like I’ve disconnected the CCD completely! Hopefully a bit more shaking will re-connect it!

And I also saw my 14th butterfly species of the year yesterday – 3 jazzy new Dark Green Fritillaries zooming around Murlough. Here’s a photo from last year.

26JUN10 Dark Green Fritillaries

The other thing that happened yesterday was that I collected 3 caterpillars to rear: two Garden Tigers (“Ferrari” and “Maclaren”) and a Ruby Tiger (“Ron”). The GTs have been eating like crazy while Ron has spun himself a cocoon to pupate in. I suspect that they all might have parasites as they are leaving pupation very late (a sign of parasitisation) but I’m hoping they’re all OK and they’ll turn into three beautiful moths!

I didn’t realise it at the time but I also collected 26 little yellow eggs which had been laid on the Ragwort which the caterpillars were eating. They’re probably Cinnabar moths.

What – a – time for my camera to go wibbly.

2011 BUTTERFLIES: 14

Species study 2, project B: Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)
Species study 5, project B: Garden Tiger (Arctia caja)
Species study 15, project A: Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae

Emperors and Tigers

17.4.11 Garden Tiger caterpillar

After some correspondence with the Chairman of Butterfly Conservation NI, Ian Rippey, I went to Murlough yesterday (17-Apr) to try and find an Emperor Moth. It wasn’t hard! I saw thirteen of them but boy were they fast! Without a butterfly net I had no hope of catching one. Not that I minded – it was good enough to see them haring across the heather in search of a female (the females fly at dusk, the males in the daytime), free and wild. One whizzed right past me and I saw its bright orange wings but couldn’t get a photo of the magnificent eyespots that give it the rights to such an imperial name.

Thankfully, caterpillars are less inclined to zip around at sixty miles an hour, and so are much easier to photograph. The Garden Tiger, above, (or “woolly bear” for the kids out there) has got to be one of my many favourite caterpillars. It was accompanied, of course, by a huge Drinker moth caterpillar (squashed, sadly) and more Marsh Fritillary caterpillars.

The other treat that day was a kestrel, hovering above the heath and looking intently down for any small mammals. I didn’t see it catch anything. Plus, I saw what I think might be a reed bunting, skulking in some gorse bushes. Beautiful day for it too.

And of course a Small Tort popped up for good measure.

I’m off to America tomorrow so if I don’t get much Internet time I’ll report on the wildlife (hopefully including butterflies) and the weather (possibly including thunderstorms) when I get back. I am EXCITED!!!