Tag Archive: plants

Peatlands Park, Dungannon, Co. Armagh

Peatlands Park

Today my mum and dad took me to Peatlands Park for the Butterfly Conservation NI Recorders’ Day. The speakers were brilliant, the seats were gluteus-numbing, and the news was positive: conservation efforts are having measurable impacts, halting declines of several rare species, especially in the south of England. It gives us up here in Nornia some motivation to expand and expand and expand.

It was great to meet and talk to people too.

The weather was entirely non-lepidopterous: the Emperor Moths which should be around on every bog in the country were nowhere to be seen, and a walk with Ian Rippey after the meeting yielded no Holly Blues or Green Hairstreaks.

But we did see extraordinary pitcher plants…

Pitcher plants, Peatlands Park

Feed me, Seamour! FEED ME!

…a flock of mallard chicks that was completely off the cute scale…

Mallard chicks, Peatlands Park, 21 Apr 2012

Innocence incarnate.

Mallard chicks, Peatlands Park, 21 Apr 2012

Beyond cute.

…and of course the usual: several old Stigmella aurella leaf mines, which I won’t show a photo of.


Goings-on in my back yard

(UPDATE 22 Sep 2011: Foties!)
(UPDATE 7 Apr 2012: New project numbering system, and spelling corrections!)

When I seeded a small planter in my back yard with wildflower seed earlier this year, I didn’t really know what to expect. Perhaps a neat little tussock of poppies, daisies and ragged-robin?


What I got was a magnificent marigold vigorously munched by five fat green Noctuid caterpillars, a few large weedy brassicas that attracted Flame Carpets, Diamond-back Moths, Large Whites and at least two other species, some spindly purple-flowered plants trying to look inconspicuous in fear of the lepidopteran onslaught, while all the tiny, delicate weeds in another planter evaded the caterpillars but were strangled by a ginormous sweet-pea.

It was quite spectacular.

I took daily notes of how the caterpillars were getting along, so I’ll try and briefly tell the story so far. I haven’t IDed half of the species. The ‘main brassica’ (or relative) I talk about here is one with many small round disc-shaped seed pods, which you can see in the first photo. I think it’s Lepidium or something.

  • 1B: I originally found 6 small Large White caterpillars, but there wasn’t a whole lot to eat. 3 large ones remained, usually on the main brassica, before they seemed to disperse, and the one I found on a wall, collected and fed died a few days later.

03Sep11 Large White caterpillar

  • 15B: The 3 Cinnabar pupae are doing just what they should be doing: absolutely sod all.
  • 16A: As have the two Buff Ermine pupae.
  • 17A: The 5 or 6 plain green Noctuids on the marigold probably mostly left the planter, although at least one died. I collected one huge one in a jar, called it Fat-one and then Pippin (which LOTR fans will appreciate) and fed it elder leaves – but for the past few days it has been chewing up leaves and spitting them out! My Angle Shades caterpillar last year did this too when he was making a cocoon, but Pippin is just making a mess!!!

03Sep11 Noctuid caterpillar on Marigold

  • 18A: I found one green looper on a wall, which has now pupated. It didn’t come from the planter as far as I can see.

03Sep11 Geometrid pupa and pupal moult

  • 19A: I identified the five brown/grey/green loopers on the brassica as Flame Carpets. I collected two of them and they have continued to eat the bits of foodplant I’ve been giving them. They nibble the edge of the seed pods.

01Sep11 Flame Carpet caterpillar

  • 20A: On the same plant as the Flames were 3 tiny caterpillars and 2 tiny pupae in ‘string-vest’ cocoons. They were pale green with dark red eyes, which made me think they might be sawflies, but four days ago I found a Diamond-back Moth clinging to a stick in the jar and pumping up its tiny wings. I think the other pupa may have drowned, although it might be waiting for spring.
  • Plus, there was a mottled brown noctuid caterpillar which completely defoliated another brassica in the space of a day, before disappearing. And yet another small green cater on the main brassica. (7 Apr: The former is a Cabbage moth, the latter another Diamond-back)

And while I’m here, I’d like to wish Richella Duggan the best of luck with the (now unfortunately quite improbable) five-ish butterfly species she’s still to photograph this year… and if not, then even better luck for next year!

Species study 1, project B: Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Species study 15, project B: Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae)
Species study 16, project A: Buff Ermine (Spilosoma luteum)
Species study 17, project A: unidentified Noctuid
Species study 18, project A: unidentified Geometer
Species study 19, project A: Flame Carpet (Xanthorhoe designata)
Species study 20, project A: Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)