Summer has flashed past for us. It is true what the old ‘uns say about how time seems to travel faster the older you get. As someone recently remarked when we were children there appeared to be years between each Christmas but now there are only minutes!
A couple of days ago we had wall to wall grey cloud, heavy mist and drizzly rain. Darkness descended in the late afternoon; what a drear and miserable day it was. The next day we had lovely warm sunshine in the afternoon once the cloud cleared and then today rain. The only bright spots in this ‘November-ish’ type days are the reds of some of the tree and shrub leaves; the Virginia creeper is a beautiful red and their leaves glow like rubies when the sun catches them as it is going down. There was a beautiful sunset this evening, catching the undersides of the clouds and turning them and the sky various shades of pink, red, orange and gold. The last of the sun’s rays picked up the drops of rain suspended on the spiders webs so that each web had its very own miniature rainbow glistening on the strands.
I have noticed that one shrub in particular is especially loved by the autumn spiders; the shrub, a variegated evergreen clipped into a flat-topped square, is festooned with small webs but they can only be seen in misty weather when the moisture clings to them and you just have to stop and admire the work of those spiders.
During the spring and summer Rod takes photographs, as a record, of the many butterflies and day time moths that visit our garden. Our garden has been likened to an oasis surrounded by fields, although there are many beautiful wild flowers growing in the hill pasture above us. We believe that those wild flowers grow so abundantly in that particular hill pasture because the farmer doesn’t allow it to be overgrazed by the cattle so the butterflies are attracted to the pasture and then flit over the fences to see what is available in our garden. So when the weather is miserable it is nice to look at these photos to remind us of spring and summer and thought you might like to share these too.
This occasional day-time moth, Elephant Hawk Moth, was caught resting on the leaves of a day lily. Such beautiful colours, it seems a shame that it is only seen mainly at night-time. It has a rather strange caterpillar that is amusing to watch. It is when you see the caterpillar that you realise where the ‘elephant’ part of the name comes from; it has a long trunk like head but when the caterpillar feels threatened it pulls its ‘trunk’ in to show off two ‘eyes’ to deter any predator.
Elephant Hawk moth caterpillars also have the disconcerting habit when spooked of swinging their heads back and forth not unlike a snake, now this has caused some discussion along the lines of “how did it know that snakes scare birds?” “Does the caterpillar/moth have intelligence to evolve imitating a snake?” Answers on a postcard please 🙂
Beautiful Comma butterfly with its scalloped wings, its name is derived from the comma like markings on the underside of its wings.
The Red Admiral is known for its love of ivy flowers and fallen apples. These have been a bit cheeky this year as they have decided to get up close and personal with us when we have been out in the garden. Suddenly realise we have a Red Admiral perched on us somewhere! I suppose it is better than the even cheekier dragonfly that kept trying to land on Rod’s bald spot otherwise known as his landing pad for flies 🙂
Brimstone butterflies are notoriously difficult to photograph with open wings, whenever it lands it immediately closes its wings to imitate a leaf. The male Brimstone is a beautiful primrose yellow colour with the female being much paler. The Brimstone is the first to show up in the early spring.
The Gatekeeper butterfly is one of the many brown ‘jobbies’ that can be seen skimming over the grasses of fields and pasture land. This one has been snapped feeding on the many thistles.
The Small Tortoiseshell used to be so plentiful but several early springs followed by severe cold snaps depleted their numbers drastically. This is one of the butterflies that uses our home to hibernate in together with the Peacock butterfly. Many creatures use our home to spend winter including hundreds of ladybirds (ladybugs in the US) and are, at this moment, congregating in our bedroom above the window.
These beautiful butterflies, Clouded Yellow, are infrequent visitors to our part of the world, they migrate to the UK having travelled huge distances over the ocean to reach our shores. Quite an amazing feat for something so delicate.
The Scarlet Tiger Moth is another day time flying moth; a vivid glorious sight to see flying around. We think that the eggs of this moth overwinter as we see the caterpillars in late spring munching on various vegetation with the moths appearing in early summer.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing just a small selection of the moths and butterflies that come a-calling in our garden.
I will leave you with one last one -once this one was extremely common and was called the Common Blue. It is a small creature but the colour is so beautiful and worth seeing; some years we don’t see any in the garden but then there will be a population explosion and there are so many it is difficult to count them. We feel so lucky to have these beautiful insects during the spring and summer and it always a delight to watch them.