Over the last few years we have noticed more and more caterpillars on the trees. It wasn’t something I considered very much when we started planting them. I was thinking about the trees, growing and producing firewood and fruit, maybe doing crafty things with twigs and fibre and exciting things with tree sap. It seems daft, but I hadn’t really considered the new habitat we are creating, albeit slowly. The insects eat the trees and other things – birds and mammals – eat the insects. As well as learning more flowers and plant species I am therefore learning more insects as well. It is a little frustrating, since there is lots of information about butterflies, slightly less easily available about moths, but rather less about their larva. I spotted a new one today with a fiery bum. I think it’s a pebble prominent moth caterpillar. There were a few feeding on one of the aspen trees, which would fit. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the moths.
We’re getting lots of looper caterpillars on the alders as well at the moment – possibly magpie moths, which are very common here. When they’re undisturbed they feed in a continuous stream of caterpillars, but when they sense danger they all rear up and pretend, rather unconvincingly to be twigs. When they are larger, and single I guess it works better, but I think they’re very cute. Funnily enough we haven’t seen many sawfly larvae on the gooseberries this year.
I’m also getting lots of caterpillars in the polytunnel. Generally they are bright green ones eating the brassica, which I don’t mind much at this time of year (although I know it’s dangerous to encourage these things or you end up with a plague). However I did find a few that had wandered onto my little apricot tree (which is still doing quite well) and were munching away, so I’m afraid they got relocated outside!
I spotted one chrysalis on a seed tray outside which I’ve left be, and I find them all the time if digging in the polytunnel.
Then there are the more glamorous adults. These are two new ones for me this year: a dark green fritillary and a common blue. Neither is particularly rare, just I’ve never seen them in Glendale before.