Blog Header

Blog Header

Monday, 16 December 2013

Looking at life through rose tinted glasses

This post dates back to early October but I didn't have time to prepare it before going off to England.

It's a bit of a play on words. The story is that I noticed an interesting hairy caterpillar on one of my rose bushes up against the side of the house. Off I went to get my camera, but I thought I'd grab my reading specs too as anything close up is a blur without them, and sometimes I'm quite amazed at what I do spot when I put them on. I was not disappointed as I couldn't believe just how much buggy life there was on just three rose bushes that I would never have noticed had I not taken a really good look!

This is the rather handsome looking caterpillar that I first saw, and it's thanks to someone on G+ who posted one a little while ago that I knew the ID! This caterpillar usually feeds on the foliage of all sorts of trees, but also roses, and quite surprisingly, ground elder - that nuisance weed that is hard to get rid of.  They are welcome to that plant!

Grey Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta psi).

Here it is again from all angles. Top left is its back end, right is its front end.

Knot Grass moth (Acronicta rumicis) caterpillar.
Note the spider in the background!

Knot Grass caterpillar again walking across the ground.
It is related to the Grey Dagger as they are both Acronicta species.

Unknown hairy caterpillar - can't find it in my insect book.
Edit: probably an early instar Oak Eggar Moth caterpillar.

As well as hairy moth caterpillars I have found two different kinds of sawfly larvae on the roses as well! Now this kind of larvae can be a real pest in large numbers; most people will know them if they grow gooseberries as gooseberry sawfly larvae can defoliate the leaves practically overnight! But the odd one on a rose is not a big deal.

Sawfly larvae on a rose leaf on the ground.

The same larvae looking a lot cuter curled up having a nap!
Also a few aphids in the background.

These spotty ones are more common and I see similar kinds on all sorts of plants.

Typical rose pest - aphids!

I also saw this cricket. I know it's a female because of the banana shaped
ovipositor at the end of her abdomen; but what the brown thing is
above that I'm not sure. I can only guess she's having a poo!
I also saw a male on this bush too.

There were spiders too of course.
Here's a cute little Zebra jumping spider (Salticus sp.) with a little fly that
it had caught. I didn't have the right camera for a tiny spider like this.

This is Metellina segmentata with a perfect orb web. The stem in the background is
another rose bush around the front of the house and those are Black Eyed Susans
(Thunbergia alata) in the background.

A closer up view of it; I'm 99% certain it's the same species
but hard to be sure when looking back through my photos!

All in all quite a surprising number of bugs just on one kind of plant. It really pays to have a close up look as you will be surprised just what you can find!


  1. Hey Mandy, what's that furry black bit going upwards on the side of the Grey Dagger Moth caterpillar?


    1. Hi Rain - it's just a hump. Umm well that's about all I can tell you. The Knot Grass caterpillar also is a similar shape with a hairy humpy bit in the same place too. I have no idea if this is a warning to predators like the bright colours usually are. You ask me difficult questions!! :-)

  2. I have those multifocal glasses, Mandy, so I should be in the advantage, still when searching for something (let's say photographable mushrooms) my wife always spots them first.
    Great collection of dagger weaponry you show us (spider on the prowl!)
    Let's call the unknown one "Rusty"!
    Love that 99%, weaving that Dentelle de Bruges!

    As you will notice, I love all of your pictures and your story, Mandy, thanks, mon amie!
    I recognise the curled larvae, Mandy! It's the one that carries ice cubes for cocktails!
    The orangy one thinks it's a horse!
    I knew it, crickets have absolutely no shame! They should devour those nasty aphids!
    Ah, zebras are my second favourite mammals, Mandy (N° uno = giraffe!)
    Black Eyed Susans should report their violent husbands to the police!!

    1. I do find it's 50/50 being able to see well, and taking the time to truly observe :-) I can still spot the bigger things without glasses on. Thinking about getting some bifocals next.

      I think Rusty is as good a name as any for the unknown caterpillar! It annoys me that I can't ID it though. You are funny with all your comments regarding all the bugs!

      Thanks very much, Jan. :-)

  3. An extraordinary collection of pictures, Mandy!
    Who needs flowers (just kidding) with such colourful caterpillars?
    I like the spotty one, with its aggressive posture :))

    1. The spotty ones are the ones I see most often and similar to the ones which eat my gooseberries, so they are not popular in the Moorhen household! :-)

      Thanks very much Marie-Helene for your great comments. :-)

  4. Oh wow I think there's a 'Bugs Party' going on in your garden. That orange spot caterpillar sure has some style and personality showing in that image - it's my favourite :)

    1. There's always a bug party going on somewhere in my garden, Rosie! Thanks very much. I have finally found out the ID of the mystery cat - pretty sure it is an early instar Oak Eggar but they change so much each time they moult, which of course makes IDing really hard.

  5. Quite a collection of bugs there! I think I need some rose bushes. Never thought I would want to plant something to attract bugs haha! Thanks for sharing this wonderful collection :)

    1. I'm sure if you look at a collection of any one plant you would find all sorts of interesting bugs in it. I did a post on all the bugs I found on some chinese cabbage plants in my veg patch last year. It was incredible just how many different critters I found - and not just slugs! :-)
      Thanks Miss LadyBug!

  6. Such an enjoyable post and fantastic photos! Thanks for taking the time to share with use, Mandy :-)

    1. Marianne - thanks for taking the time to look and comment - it's really appreciated!