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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Lepidoptera whispering and a glow worm larva

Oops I pressed Publish meaning to press Preview, and that means this blog post went out like that to all feeds and email subscriptions. I had meant to write just a teensy bit of text with it..... OK here goes. :-)

I've had a bit of luck with my butterfly and moth whispering charms this week. First up was a Green-veined White butterfly, which I found fluttering about on low vegetation at the edge of my woodland. To my surprise when I put a finger out next to its perch, it climbed up on it!

Green-veined White butterfly (Pieris napi).

It seemed quite happy to perch on my finger so we spent a bit of quality time together.

Now moths are (sometimes) less flitty than butterflies and don't seem to mind being handled quite so much, although it rather depends on the situation. I was sitting in the barn cursing the April showers that were disrupting my attempts at gardening, when during a sudden hail shower, I noticed something walking up the slight slope towards the barn entrance. I thought it might be a bee and wanted to save it from being pummeled by the hail. It turned out to be a moth, which seemed only too happy to be brought inside in the dry, and after I took a few photos of it on the floor, happily sat on my finger for about 5 minutes. The last I saw of it, it was climbing up my arm.

The Shuttle-shaped Dart Moth (Agrotis puta) at UK Moths

Shuttle-shaped Dart Moth (Agrotis puta).
You can't see its head easily here as there's crud on the floor which is distracting.

A better view of its face.
Holding my DSLR with heavy macro lens is not easy one-handed!

I had to use the pop up flash as I didn't have the Speedlite with me.

Another exciting find, although I didn't know it at the time as I didn't ID it until later, was this beetle larva. I discovered it whilst weeding around my strawberries, and put it on the wooden board edging the veg patch plots so I could photograph it better, but it kept on moving. Imagine my delight when I discovered this is a Glow Worm larva! And even better, these guys eat small snails and slugs - a perfect insect to have in the veg patch. It's the adult females which glow to attract a mate, and they look quite similar to the larval form, whilst the males look completely different and more like a beetle.

Glow Worm larva (Lampyris noctiluca).
That's a Red Velvet Mite on the side, just a coincidence.

Aren't the mouth parts amazing?
It looks like a squid!


  1. These are great Mandy. Only ever seen glow worms in France, usually on campsites, as we're thinking about heading towards the sleeping bags. Your forearms must be like a wrestler's (or a climber's).

    What's this about pretending to garden? Perfect nails like that - don't think so. The face is brilliant.

    1. I saw some glow worms in my last garden, but here I don't seem to go wandering around the garden after dark (probably because it's really, really dark!) so I haven't looked. But I am going to. Read somewhere around June/July time.

      My arms are skinny and weak and the only strong thing about me is my ruddy fingernails which grow too long too quickly! They look clean at the moment because I have not started doing anything with blackberries/elderberries/currants/beetroot etc, or pinching out tomatoes which is awful for staining your fingernails.

      Anyhow thank you Nick, and glad you like my finds!

  2. Great photos Mandy, don't think I would be able to pick them up, they give me the hibigeebees. Just managing to get close enough to photograph them.

    1. What, not even pick up a butterfly, Amanda?! You, the person who will take close up pictures of slugs, gets the heebeegeebees? That's funny. :-)

  3. Oh how amazing to get a butterfly to wander unto your finger. I know that salt attracts butterflies so if you were exerting yourself in the garden you might have had sweaty hands which attracted it :) Those macros are so good especially holding with one hand - you're getting in practice for when those elusive ladybirds appear :)

    1. I know, Rosie, it's not something that I've had happen very often. The best experience was from the Swallowtails that I raised last year, having them on my fingers for ages because they could not fly at first was just magical. I may have had smelly hands from being inside marigolds whilst cleaning out the chickens or my rubbery gardening gloves!
      Thanks very much and I have seen a few ladybirds today, but they are those minute creamy ones with lots of spots, forgotten what they are called.