Archive for the ‘Bees and other insects’ Category
Posted in Bees and other insects, Butterflies, tagged Carpenter bees, chrysalis, long tailed blue, perovskia, short tailed blue, Silver-Studded Blue, stick insect, Swallowtail butterfly, Swallowtail caterpillar on September 26, 2012 | 20 Comments »
Monday was a lovely day in the garden, the sky had scudding clouds and it was windy, for some reason the butterflies thought it a perfect day and fluttered about every time I passed any of the plants they were feeding from. The wind, of course, made it challenging to photograph them, but here are a few I managed to capture.
The first picture was in the morning, by early evening it had climbed up to the fronds of the fennel where they usually make their chrysalis.
There was a Swallowtail flying around in the morning but it wouldn’t settle to be photographed. I think it was confused as I have Brassicas in the same bed as the fennel, in fact they are now rather swamping the fennel so the butterfly could sense there was fennel somewhere about but couldn’t quite locate it. Just shows it’s worth planting different smelling things together to confuse predators. The fennel would have been more obvious when the eggs were laid of this caterpillar.
I find it so interesting the way different insects (animals in general) use different materials to build their homes, or in this case the home for their young.
I was preparing the spare bedroom which hadn’t been used for a while and found this outside the window but inside the shutters.
I recognised immediately what it was; but this was the first one in a reachable position that I could investigate.
The nest is constructed of mud and stocked with spiders for its young to eat as they emerge from the chrysalis. Several cells are connected alongside each other, sharing the mud walls, but they are individual, sealed tube. Each cell will contain one egg and be provided with food for the larvae when it hatches. The food is in the form of small spiders with between 6 and 14 per cell. These are mostly small crab or jumping spiders.
The spiders don’t seem to be dead, but paralysed by the adult’s sting so that they remain fresh for the emerging larvae.
This is the insect in question: the thread-waisted Wasp, Sceliphron spirifex. I can’t imagine how many trips it must take to construct the nest; sometimes they are huge!
Posted in Bees and other insects, Foliage, Garden Blogggers Foliage Day, month by month, Weather, tagged Assassin Bug, automatic irrigation, convolvulus cneorum, drought tolerant plants, Euphorbia myrsinites, Euphorbia rigida, foliage, form, large island bed, Rhinocoris iracundus, silver leaved plants, texture on June 22, 2012 | 30 Comments »
I was away from the garden for a long weekend in Prague, visiting friends who were teaching there for a month; a great city for a break with masses to see especially if you like Art Nuevo and music – ah the music!
But I digress. Before I went away we had more than a week of strong winds with temperatures about average or a little below the norm for this time of year. On the day we left the direction of the wind must have changed bringing scorching temperatures of up 38 or 39° C, with wind as well on the first day. So in four days the garden looks totally different. Actually it looks as if someone went crazy it with a blow torch!
I hadn’t begun the automatic irrigation because every morning there had been evidence of quite heavy dew, so I felt the plants should cope. I should have realised that the wind was already drying them out and that they needed a little help. The automatic irrigation is now on; I’ll post about the different types of irrigation tubes I use and what I think are the pros and cons of each kind soon.
We are now entering the period when there are less blooms, only the toughest of plants flower when its this hot. So I am now relying on foliage and form to give life to the garden. Shiny, glinting silvers sparkle in the shimmering heat. Even very tough, drought tolerant plants like Cistus don’t look their best; their leaves shrivel a little to help prevent water loss. The garden has lost that feeling of lush plenty and is looking parched and lean. Not my favourite time.
You can see in the above that my Cordyline is not happy, it really doesn’t like the heat; its days are numbered.
Without these silver-leaved plants the garden would be very sad in summer.
Euphorbia rigida’s new foliage is lifting itself clear of its spent flowering stems. The seed pods were popping for weeks, I expect to find many new seedlings in autumn, time now to clear away the debris.
The loveliest thing happening in the garden is all the bees and butterflies that fill the space with fluttering wings and various levels or buzzing. But even here there are things to shock. Looking at the lavender hedge of the formal beds and taking as many photos as I could I saw this, at first I could quite believe what I was seeing.
I checked in my ‘Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ book and found that it is an Assassin Bug, Rhinocoris iracundus.
I hope you will join in GBFD and tell us what foliage is looking great in your garden at the moment. To link in just leave a comment with a link to your post; I look forward to reading them. I’ll read and comment on all GBFD posts, thank you for joining in.
The gardens is full of butterflies and bees. They love the Lavender (this is a good reason to keep it).
I have seen Swallowtail butterflies, a black and white butterfly that comes rarely to the garden that I never manage to photograph and there was a mucher larger humming bird hawk moth, again it was too quick for me. Even the bees tempt me because they seem slow only to fly off as the press the shutter; I have numerous images of only sprigs of lavender when I hoped I was taking bees or butterflies drink necter.
I usually cut the flowers off the santolina before they open as I don’t like their colour, but having left them this year, I find they are visited by numerous different insects, so perhaps I should always leave the flowers for them.
And these are from last month that didn’t find their way into a post.
But not all the visitors are harmless. Rosa Molineux has been ravaged by one kind of insect that I’ve not noticed in the garden in other years.
So if you know what they are, what can I do about them (organically).
I can’t leave you with this horrible image, so here’s a swallowtail from last month.