Butterflies and other wildlife


Above: either High Brown Fritillary (Fabriciana adippe) or Queen or Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia).

Until I planted this garden I had never seen so many different types of bees and wasps; it is the sound of all the insects, busy collecting nectar and pollinating the flowers, that tells me things are in harmony.

Scolia flavifrons

This wasp relative (Scolia flavifrons) came to the garden solely for the nectar of Allium sphaerocephalon, then disappeared.

Most of my plants attract many insects, so much so that an entomologist friend has set up a research project to assess just how many insects are visiting the garden; when he has completed his initial research I’ll be able to give you a list.

Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)

I enjoy all the butterflies, even those I haven’t managed to photograph, perhaps the Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) gives me most pleasure as it seems so exotic- though it isn’t as rare as its name implies.  Perched on the flower-head of Verbena bonariensis, the plant it favours most, it looks so elegant.

Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)

Most of my plants attract many insects, so much so that an entomologist friend has set up a research project to access just how many insects are visiting the garden; when he has completed his initial research I’ll be able to give you a list.

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamhilis)

? Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra)

I never realised just how difficult it is to photograph insects; just as you think you have a good shot, the subject flies to another flower.

Heath Fritillary Mellicta athalia)

We are lucky to have a female Little Owl (Athene noctua) who has raised her young on our roof every year.  Last weekend we saw the first flight of this year’s chick.  During the night we hear the distinctive sound of the chick asking for food.  We also watched the first tentative flight or two young Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) who have taken up residence in a tree by a neighbouring farmhouse.  Last year a Buzzard perched on a fence post for about 20 minutes while I watched too fascinated to get the camera.

Common wall lizard ( Podarcis muralis)

Lizards rush crazily about, chasing each other in the heat of the day; their ability to climb astounds me; while I was tying in the Wisteria on the top of the pergola I was momentarily scared by the noise of an animal which turned out to be a couple or lizards ‘playing’. According to myth the garden of the Hesperides was guarded by the dragon, Ladon.  I don’t have a dragon but the lizards look like small dragons to me  so I feel that they guard my garden.

There are snakes too, at least two large Western Whip Snakes (Coluber viridiflavus) and grass snakes (Natrix natrix).

6 thoughts on “Butterflies and other wildlife

  1. stunning photos. and great u are thinking about wildlife as well as wonderful planting. I did think your garden would be arid in the hot summer months. I should have known better. Great blog!


    • I don’t use any pesticides at all. Early signs of insects that might be a problem are treated by rubbbing in them off with my fingers or a mild soap solution. But it’s always necessary to leave some alive so that their natural predators can begin to build up their numbers to create a balance.

  2. You are so lucky to see so many butterflies. Here there is lots of concern about the crisis in butterfly numbers.They are declining rapidly – I have seen very few this year, despite growing all the plants I can think of to attract them. I have asked other gardeners, who have noticed the same lack of insects. Except flies- we have lots of them! An article in the Times this weekend said that some British butterflies have declined by 76%.

    • Yes, I am lucky, I see so many butterflies, many more than I was able to photograph. I’ve seen lots of Peacock and Red Admiral, favourites from my English garden. There is less use of pesticides here for verges of roads and the land around me is mainly pasture for sheep so there’s no real use of pesticides on that. The other main crop is maize which doesn’t seem to have many insects that attack it so again no pesticides. the environmental damage done by the maize is the amount of water that is used to grow it.

  3. thank you for noticing my mistake with the Verbena … a gardening friend called Veronica has been uppermost in my thoughts recently, hence the confusion. Full marks for your butterflies – a reward for all the hard work in the garden.

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