Tag Archives: caterpillars

Butterflies, Moths, Buddleia and Mint

The Butterfly Count is upon us for 2017 and Julia is preparing  the materials for the group.

We had a preparatory look in the garden on Friday to get some idea of what was about, and had a good result, considering it was a cold day. The buddleia didn’t attract much (possibly because it’s planted in a shady spot) but the mint attracted a lot of pollinators and the Mint Moths. (Mint Moths are only about quarter of an inch across (6mm) in real life – don’t go looking for something the same size as the photo). I didn’t see butterflies on the mint, but they were mainly seen in the area around the mint.


Mint Moth

Painted Lady

Red Admiral

Speckled Wood

White, Large

There was also an unidentified white, an unidentified brown (probably Meadow Brown or Gatekeeper) and an unidentified brown Skipper.

We need to add a few more plants around the place – more buddleia would be good, and oregano used to attract a lot of butterflies when we were at the Ecocente. Although the Mencap garden isn’t anywhere near as good as the Centre garden for attracting butterflies, it’s still as exciting to try to spot new species and plan to attract more. We have a few buddleia seedlings to donate and I’ll have to persuade Julia to grow oregano.

The last week has been reasonably good in the house garden (which is a bit of a butterfly wasteland), with Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and Orange Underwing moth all seen this week. There are Mint Moths in a herb garden along the street and I live in hope of seeing another Hummingbird Hawk Moth on the Red Valerian like we did (twice) in 2015.

Time to start giving some serious thought to our own garden, after a year of hacking back in 2016.

I’m slightly ambivalent towards buddleia as it’s a non-native species and can be considered a pest. I think it’s best summed up here by Butterfly Conservation – it’s a valuable source of nectar and is OK in gardens. However, it doesn’t feed caterpillars and it can be invasive in the wrong place.

There are other plants to feed butterflies and caterpillars, as this list shows.

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date

It’s been a very pleasant day today, with good weather, light winds and a

flush of butterflies. I shifted a lot of paperwork and, had a quick run round the butterfly garden, which proved to be the best bit of the day.

Apart from the usual whites and small tortoiseshells we had a pristine Red Admiral and a lovely clean Comma. Finally, we had the most faded and ragged Painted Lady I’ve ever seen, with transparent patches and chunks of wing missing.

It’s been a hard summer for that butterfly, as you may be able to tell from the photo. It’s not a great shot, but I didn’t have the good camera with me. Having said that, I can’t download that shot – ill have to try later.

Meanwhile the caterpillars continue to munch our sacrificial nasturtiums.


Caterpillars aren’t birds…

As I suspected, the noise generated by a couple of our clients working in the garden scared all the birds away so I will have to try for photographs another day.


I decided that I’d go for something a little slower and easier to capture in a picture. So here they are – the late hatch of caterpillars that have been laying waste to our nasturtiums for the last week. They are still there today, chewing voraciously. Somehow, despite the lack of fins, they remind me of Great White Sharks.

After trying the caterpillar identifier and calling up a number of species that I’ve never heard of (who ever thought of calling something the Lead-coloured Lichen Moth?). The fact that the moth isn’t lead-coloured and only seems to be found in North America merely add to the mystery of moths.


Of course, it isn’t a rarity. But for just one moment, rather like the instant  just before you check your lottery ticket, there was a world of potential awaiting. They are just the caterpillars of the Large White. Hungry ones at that. You’d have thought that the birds could have made an effort and eaten them. So much for permaculture…