Interesting (To Us) Photos From The Garden

This page last updated: 16 May 2024.

16 May 2024

So that you've got the message about the muntjac thing, while eating dinner last night Leo pointed out there was a muntjac in the garden, just outside the window, also having dinner; geraniums in its case.  It doesn't do a great deal other than munch, and was still browsing well after we'd finished our dinner, as usual completely unconcerned that it was in the middle of a built-up area.


11 May 2024

Just over a year ago we drove to the Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights.  Last night they came to visit us in our back garden, which was nice.

"Northern" lights

As far as we can tell, most of the world was able to see them.  Here's a view out of the front of the house, showing just how well the lights stand up to our new, extremely bright, LED street lights.

Front lights

Lazing On A Sunday Morning
21 January 2024

These muntjac are increasingly unconcerned by people.
Quite pretty though.


Fungus The Bogeyman And Friends
3 September 2023

The decking at the bottom of the garden, on which sits a tonne of water in a hot tub, has been attacked by Fungus the Bogeyman, which is not good; a result of letting leaves etc. rot on the decking.  Here's what he looks like in extreme form and in more normal form (the white patches), should you ever need to spot him yourself (though he hides very well):

More normal

Here's his effect on a metre of chunky supporting timber:
Solution: rip out the rotten wood if you can, spray what remains with fungicide specialised for wet/dry rot and replace the wood; or if you have a tonne of water sitting on top of it, reinforce with something that will not rot and hope for the best.

While fixing this, Rob got stung quite painfully, if invisibly, but some relatively small wasps.  Turns out there was a nest down the side of the hot tub.  Here it is, about 10 cm across and with the queen (more than twice the size of the other wasps) sitting on top.

Wasps nest

Slug Sex
26 August 2023

Alice spotted two large slugs having sex in a slight hollow in the lawn; they continued for three or four hours.

Slug sex

28 July 2023

Definitely in the garden this time, mostly even in the conservatory: Alice's echinopsis "Darley Leopard" has been flowering, and spiking her quite copiously; it is rather impressive.

cactus flower

Box Tree Moth
2 July 2023

Not seen this rather pretty thing, which turned up in the kitchen today, before; turns out that's because it is an accidental invader to the UK, some time in the last 15 years, and is apparently a pest of Box.

Box tree moth

We will let it live out its days indoors.

Bee Fly Again
14 April 2023

Happened to spot another Bee Fly, sitting resting on the path, and couldn't resist another snap, slightly better than the previous one.

Bee fly

13 November 2022, updated 14 February 2023 and again November 2023

Our friend Aileen is, rather impressively, able to grow rocoto peppers in an enclosure in her back garden in Burton.  She was generous enough to give us the collected seeds last year, just under 30 of them.  We planted the lot in March and 6 things grew but it became clear, as the leaves formed, that none of them were rocotos.  Then, a straggler arose, which we added to the set and, marvellously, it was obviously a rocoto: a chunky/hairy stem with more leaf-shaped, and also very hairy, leaves.

It is now on the window sill with all the other types of pepper plants and, though you can't quite see it from the picture, has developed a somewhat challenging "feed me" pose, with marvellous purple jaws^H^H^H^H flowers.

"feed me"

Update: to prove that this really is a rocoto, here's its first little fruit (not much more than a centimetre across) cut open, showing the evil black seeds inside.  And yes, it is somewhat hot.


Update to the update: Aileen's rocoto was killed by extremes of cold in 2023; we were able to send her the first few fruits of our rocoto plant from which should could dry out the seeds.  Seed bank is us.


23 August 2022

A visitor to the kitchen at number 12 for some reason; very fresh looking.


Silver-washed Fritillary
3 July 2022

Not quite our garden again; a few miles down the road in Shadwell Wood, a very quiet little nature reserve, where in spring you can spot the tiny rare Oxlip orchid in plenty, we saw loads of Silver-washed Fritillaries basking in the sun at the edges of the trees.  Seeing such a large orange thing fluttering around in an Essex wood is rather fun.


26 May 2022

Alice found something strange in the garden and had to investigate.

Akebia Crop
26 September 2021

Five or six years ago we planted two akebias in narrow-but-wide planters that we made ourselves for the side of the house, in a passage way, in order for them to climb up the side of the house.  The planters were so narrow that we feared anything planted in them might not survive the winter, hence they are insulated with insulation board and reflective sheets, and also electrically heated with greenhouse heaters.  Walking past them this afternoon we noticed fruit!  And not just one fruit, a significant crop.  We had no idea akebias did that, but apparently they do if cross-pollinated, which will be the case since we planted two different varieties.  It must be a very happy pair of akebias with toasty heated roots.  What a result.

We tasted the pith and it is like a somewhat bland passion fruit with peppery seeds.  Apparently the Japanese eat the pith as a sweet and the outer husk as a stuffed vegetable.

What an amazing weekend: a visitor from Bulgaria and unexpected fruit.

Akebia, up the side
                            of the house
A small selection
                            from the crop
A fruit
A fruit, the pith

A Visitor From Bulgaria
26 September 2021

While shopping in Waitrose on 4th September Alice spotted that, inside the packaging of some green chillies from Bulgaria, there was a caterpillar; result!  We bought the packet to bring the creature home, giving it a variety of leaves from the garden to chomp on.  5 days later it had pupated and 24 days after that, on 25th September, we had a moth, a Scarce Bordered Straw no less: apparently a pest often found on cultivated plants grown in southern Europe.  It was a good job we had given it a geranium leaf, one of its food plants it turns out, to chomp on.

It is obviously only scarce, as a migrant, to the UK, anything but scarce in Bulgaria we guess.

Scarce Bordered
                            Straw, caterpillar
Scarce Bordered
                            Straw, caterpillar
Scarce Bordered Straw, pupa
Scarce Bordered Straw
Scarce Bordered Straw
Scarce Bordered Straw

Bee Aircon
13 June 2021

Alice noticed that some bees have burrowed their nest into the ground immediately outside our garden shed door.  And in this warm weather, the warmest day of 2021 yet, despite being in the shade, it must be getting a bit toasty down there because they've started the aircon.

Damsefly: This Time In Our Garden
9 May 2021

For the first time ever, we spotted a red-bodied damselfly flittering about actually in the back garden, some considerable distance from proper water; good luck damselfly!


Muntjac Attack
18 April 2021

Last Sunday afternoon, while walking through a tiny section of wood right beside a housing estate on the edge of town (about half a mile away from us, so not quite in our garden but close), our path was blocked.  Common as muck and not particularly afraid of humans, these muntjacs.

Brown Bird
11 March 2021

Nesting time for brown bird. These working-from-home days I see her in the back garden every few days picking up stuff while still holding a mouthful of stuff; how does she do it?

24 October 2020

Happened to look out of the kitchen window one autumn Sunday morning and there it was: a woodpecker sitting on the apple tree!  It didn't do much.  But it was definitely a woodpecker.

Sparrow Hawk
4 December 2019

Earlier today Alice happened to be walking in the garden when she heard a rustling in the bushes and, lo and behold, a female sparrow hawk had just landed with a still-squeaking blackbird in its mouth.  The entire local bird community came out to protest but the blackbird didn't squeak for very long and the sparrow hawk stayed around with her catch (it being too large for her to fly away with) long enough for Alice to rush inside and fetch a camera.  Click on the picture below to see the sparrow hawk chomping away.

Sparrow Hawk video

Small Tortoiseshells
1 July 2018

The small tortoiseshells are feasting on the lavender this year; five in this picture.

                        small tortoiseshells on the lavender

Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar
14 September 2017

Alice was lucky enough to spot not one but two elephant hawk moth caterpillars sitting on the Great Willow Herb in the garden today.  These things are enormous, around 100 mm long.

Elephant hawk-moth caterpillar

Passion Fruit
27 August 2017

The passion flower that has a rather good south-facing aspect is so happy that it has decided to fruit.  Question is, is it worth eating (this is not a variety grown for fruit) and, if so, what constitutes ripe?

Passion fruit

Update: we picked it and cut it open on 2 September 2017.  The verdict is that it does indeed taste of passion fruit but there is very little juice, mostly seed.

Inside the
                        passion fruit

26 February 2017

The carpet of crocus in the garden; that's Saffron Walden for ya.

Crocus carpetCrocus

26 February 2017

A migrant ladybird, H. axyridis conspicua, which I am choosing to welcome but keep in the house so that the STD that this species potentially carries won't be passed on.  One question though: if you're going to have big white "bite here" marks, why not put them on the opposite end to where your sensitive bits are?  Unless you're expecting to stare you enemies down or something. Odd.

H. axyridis
                        conspicuaH. axyridis

Plague Of Summer Chafers
5 July 2015

Previously photographed as a singleton, the moth trap we put out last night was this morning occupied by many tens of Summer Chafers.  They seem to really like the plum tree right next to our garden.


Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
7 June 2015

The pupa has now hatched and appeared to be a Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, however it was a bit difficult to tell as it immediately flipped into a wet patch and damaged its wing. It is a bit early in the year for a moth of this type but it looked too small to be a Large Yellow Underwing.

10 May 2015

About 25 mm long, found during a spot of gardening.  We wonder what it will turn out to be?


15 September 2014

During the summer, in a patch where tomatoes grew and rotted in previous years, some nasturtiums were planted for a little bit of colour. In fairly short order the leaves were eaten by caterpillars:

Small White caterpillar
Large White caterpillar

...arising from eggs such as these:

Eggs of Whites

To save our colour from the beasties we plucked the caterpillars off and placed them into a jar enclosed by a fine gauze top held on with an elastic band.  Each day we placed inside some cabbagey food stuff (one nice large leaf from a sheaf of greens), suspecting the beasties to be Whites:

Large White caterpillars

Soon pupation came:


...and then, first out, came the Small White butterfly:


The remaining, more numerous, Large White caterpillars became larger:

Large White caterpillar

...and then from the sea of pupae out came the Large White butterflies:

White butterflies
Large White butterfly

We released between 10 and 15 Small and Large White butterflies in all, which was quiet satisfying.  A note, though, for anyone planning to do this: it is not possible to both feed the voracious caterpillars properly and at the same time keep the bottom of the jar clean:

Whites swamp

Our advice is, once the caterpillars have largely pupated, to put a piece of kitchen towel over the swamp in order to prevent any emerging butterflies from falling into it.

28 June 2014

Ringlets have been inhabiting the garden and sheltering in the conservatory recently; their underside is almost prettier than the top surface of their wings.

Ringlet, the underwing

1 June 2014

To prove (well, OK, imply) that our spawn was good, having been unable to see much through the duckweed infestation, we saw a froglet hopping around today, not much more than a centimeter long.


9 April 2014

Rather excitingly, the pond dug just over a year ago has not only attracted frogs but has just spawned, umm, spawn.  You can see the little black tadpole blobs in the centre of each glob.

Frog spawn

Blue Tit
14 December 2013

A few months ago we bought a perspex bird feeder that one can stick to a window so as to get a good view of the birdies coming to feed.  Up in Aviemore one of these was veritably infested with birds taking advantage of the free grub. It's taken a little while to get the birdies coming here, mainly because the weather has been so good that they haven't been worried about food.  But in the last few weeks we've seen birds using the nearby apple tree as a staging post from which to make dives to the feeder.  Today we managed to snap a fuzzy photograph of one through the dirty window and believe that it is a blue tit.

Blue Tit on feeder

Bum Apple
21 October 2013

An amusingly deformed apple has landed.

Twins from below
Twins from above

Click the image below to see the twins in motion.

Click for
                        twins in motion

Muntjac Once More
16 October 2013

They're back!  The Muntjacs have returned, two of them this time.  They love them apples.


3 March 2013

More of a house thing than a garden thing but we thought it was a bit amazing.  Take one pot-bound strelitzia:


Hack it into three:

                          hacked into three parts

Take one part home in a bag:

Rob's prize

And five months later we have this:

A flower A flower!

Not only that, but the flower keeps opening up new orange and blue petals from the pod on the left, the old ones becoming the "greasy hair" of the head while the new ones shine out:

New petals

And at the same time it oozes out some lovely goo:


14 January 2013

Slightly belated this but we thought we'd post some photos of pond construction that took place late last year.  The intention is to bury a small water storage tank (better than a very visible large ugly green thing) and at the same time dig a small garden pond (80 cm deep, 70 cm wide and 120 cm long).  The 60 cm wide digger was extremely useful and very versatile; moving 2 metric tonnes of wet clay soil 100 metres up the road to the only place we were allowed to locate a skip, using one wheel barrow, in the pouring rain, was less fun.

The digger in position
Moving the grass that will be put
                                back to cover the water storage tank
Beginning the dig
The dig completed, water tank in
Grass replaced over the water
                                storage tank, shelf and water feature in
Sand going in
Membrane going down

Light Brown Apple Moths
14 January 2013

The caterpillars below have pupated and hatched to reveal... Light Brown Apple Moths (or Epiphyas postvittana).  Not surprising given that the gardens of our houses all have apple trees, an ex orchard in fact.  And apparently we shouldn't have worried about the choice of food plant for the caterpillars: UK Moths has these creatures down as "the most catholic polyphages in Britain", a poetic way of saying "they eat anything".

                          Brown Apple Moth or Epiphyas postvittana

Caterpillars On Echeveria
1 January 2013

We found several small green caterpillars, each about 1.5 cm long, infesting an Echeveria (a succulent plant) today.  They were later found on the Plumbago next door along with an open pupa case from a previous generation.  Samples have been kept to see what hatches.

                          on echeveria

                          case from previous generation

Gloriosa Sequence
8 December 2012

There were a set of flowers on the Gloriosa today which represented most of the flowering states it has so we thought we'd put together a sequence to show how the petals develop; click on the image below to see it.  The flower starts as a pod, the petals begin dangling down, they rise and develop yellow edges to perfection and then relax downwards once more.  Very pretty.

Gloriosa sequence

23 September 2012

Sitting on the decking yesterday, looking rather like a fallen leaf initially, we found a very fat frog with beautiful bronze-coloured eyes.


23 August 2012

Alice found a Muntjac feeding on the shoots of the apple tree in the garden this morning.  It didn't stick around for long once it had spotted that it was being watched.


Dragonfly at Chatsworth
8 August 2012

OK, so the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire's back yard can't be described as our garden but it could be The Garden? Ah, hell, we took a good picture of a dragonfly and it shouldn't go to waste.

Dragonfly at

Honey Bee
29 July 2012

Managed to get rather a good shot of a honey bee in the garden while emptying the moth trap this morning.

Honey Bee

27 May 2012

OK, so this was not taken in our garden at all.  It was taken in Waltham Abbey Dragonfly Preservation area, utterly deserted for a very sunny Sunday afternoon.  We happened across the most cooperative damselfy ever, so we thought it worth recording the picture somewhere.


29 April 2012

Alice took this photo on 5 February 2012 when the Gloriosa in the conservatory was flowering wonderfully with snow in the background.  We thought it was rather a marvellous juxtaposition.

Gloriosa flowring in the snow

Nelson's Return?
20 November 2011

We christened the Red Admiral Nelson, of course, and let him out into the wild (though he sat outside in his large sweet jar for several days before venturing through the open top).  Then yesterday Hazel spotted a Red Admiral fluttering at the windows.  It's incredibly late in the year for a butterful to be about and we couldn't help but wonder if it was our homing Nelson.

Red Admiral!
6 September 2011

We were right - the Red Admiral hatched today.

Red Admiral

Red Admiral (?) Pupa
26 August 2011

Rather excitingly, the caterpillar has pupated.

                            Admiral pupa

Red Admiral (?) Caterpillar
22 August 2011

We found a caterpillar in the garden at the weekend, sitting on a rotting apple and about to be attacked by a wasp.  We have rescued it and believe it to be a Red Admiral caterpillar.  It is being fed nettles and we hope it will pupate.

Red Admiral caterpillar

And The Other Chrysalis
20 June 2011

The other chrysalis, the larger of the two, has now hatched into, rather appropriately, a beautifully marked Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

16 June 2011

Alice took a walk in a wildlife area near Thaxted that was full of wild orchids.  Not exactly the garden but only three miles away.

Wild orchids
One wild orchids

More Chrysalis
16 June 2011

Here are two more chrysalis that Alice found over the last two weeks.

A pair of

We awaited a hatching and the smaller one has so far done the deed and turned out to be a Lesser Yellow Underwing. Only last week Alice had hatched one of the same from a pupa found near the one above - there must be a food plant for Lesser Yellow Underwings about.

Lesser Yellow Underwing

Chrysalis From The Hanging Baskets
18 January 2011

The caterpillar below has pupated.  We await the adult form.

Update 23 May 2011: sadly the pupa developed a kink in its side and didn't make it through the winter.

                              from the hanging baskets

Caterpillar On The Hanging Baskets
13 December 2010

Feeding on the flowers in the hanging baskets (now brought inside) we found this brown caterpillar. We will keep it and see what happens next year.


16 October 2010

Hazel wanted this picture posted here - it's a little tiny stalactite that had developed on the bath tap.  It's very hard around here.

Stalactite from the bath tap

17 May 2009

A set of spiders eggs hatched on our back door this week.  They are only the common Garden Spider, Araneus diadematus, but rather pretty we thought.

Araneus diadematus, the Garden

Full Circle
20 April 2009

Today the red pupa that we'd kept from last year hatched: it is a Cabbage Moth.


Bee Fly
5 April 2009

Alice spotted a very peculiar looking bee in the garden today.  We thought at first that it might be a Bee Moth but further study has shown that it is in fact a Bee Fly.  Funny how so many things want to look like bees.  See also a later photograph.

Bee Fly

Another Caterpillar Pupates
18 October 2008

The green caterpillar below has now pupated.  We will keep it until next year and hope to find out what it is.


And Another Caterpillar
11 October 2008

One for the "to be ID'd" list (~3.5 cm long).  The possibilities would seem to be Hebrew Character, Common Quaker, Cabbage Moth, Yellow Shell, Dark Umber, or Autumnal Moth (though these latter two moths we've never caught locally).


An Early Thorn Caterpillar
4 October 2008

We found this caterpillar a few days ago.  We reckon it is an Early Thorn and will over-winter as a pupa.

Early Thorn caterpillar? 

Cabbage White Caterpillar
10 August 2008

Feeding on the nasturtiums today in vast numbers, the Cabbage White caterpillar.  The text book suggests that they feed in groups up to their last moult, after which they disperse, so given their size (~25 mm long) we reckon these are on their penultimate moult.

Cabbage White Caterpillar

Pretty Fly, AKA Episyrphus balteatus
2 August 2008

From the moth trap this morning, a fly that we thought was very pretty.  We suspect it is some form of hoverfly.

Update, 23 May 2011: thanks to Myriam Vandenberghe for letting us know that it really is a hoverfly, Episyrphus balteatus male, family Syrphidae to be exact.

A form of

27 July 2008

The kids were playing in the paddling pool in the back garden until late tonight and while wandering around in the dark we came upon two other creatures.  The first is a Summer Chafer.  It is a bit like a Cockchafer but smaller (about 20 mm long), hairier and uniformly light brown in colour.  Apologies for the bad photo (it was dark and we had to use a torch).


The other creature was a frog posing nicely on the grass (which we narrowly avoided stepping on).  We should probably get around to narrowing down the frog varieties, if there are such things.


Forest Bug
22 July 2008

Found on the way back home from school today, a form of shield bug we thought we hadn't seen before.  We believed it to be a Sloe Bug but it's actually (another) Forest Bug, thanks to Carl Farmer for correcting us.

Forest Bug

Beetle Rescue
13 July 2008

Last weekend, while emptying the moth trap, we happened to look at an old apple tree stump nearby and spotted a beetle (the stump has begin rotting properly in the last year and has become a juicy haunt for insects).  The peculiar thing about this particular beetle, though, is that it appeared to be stuck half-way out of the wood.

Beetle stuck in the wood 

This weekend, on emptying the moth trap, we took another look and the beetle was still there, stuck in the same place.  From the pictures below you can see that there is a hollow from which it is emerging: perhaps it had been a pupa in there.

Front half of the beetle
Rear half of the beetle

We decided to rescue it and so removed the piece of wood (which was well rotted lower down but actually quite solid around its body) and cut it free.

Lesser Stag Beetle freed

Alice has identified it as a Lesser Stag Beetle, in fact a female Lesser Stag Beetle because of the two raised dots on her face.  We have previously caught one that lacked the two dots, so was probably a male.  Once out of the wood, she did a curious backwards walk, presumably trying to burrow back into the wood to hide from us.

The lesser stag beetle trying to

We returned her to the tree stump and she immediately headed back into the comfort of the rotting wood.

1 June 2008

Found in the moth trap this morning: a Cockchafer.  One of the larger native beetles in Britain and a member of the Scarab family, its young spend several years in larval form.  This one is a few centimetres long and is very cute to look at.  Notice its clubbed antennae, both of which can be folded away in case of danger.  We're not sure we believe this but according to UK Safari you can tell the difference between male and female because the female has six segments to its clubbed antenna while the male has seven.  This one is a lady.  To show its stately pace of life, we've included a video of it trying to climb up Rob's sleeve.

Cockchafer Cockchafer
Cockchafer's clubbed antennae The
                                  cockchafer trying to climb up Rob's

May Fly
19 May 2008

It's May and, appropriately enough, we found this May Fly perched on a wall in our lounge today.  We know it's a May Fly (and not a Caddis Fly, Stonefly or Lacewing) because it has very short antennae and its wings are up-stretched vertically on its back rather than folded flat. The fact that it's around in May is, apparently, less of a decider - they can be seen throughout the summer.

May Fly

18 May 2008

Three years ago Alice spotted a newt in our garden and then two years ago she transported some newts from the school pond into ours.  Now, while cleaning duckweed out of our pond, Alice has spotted at least two newts amongst the frog collection in our pond. We managed to capture one of them on film.  It has no crest, so we reckon it is female.

Newt in
                                  the pond Newt in the pond

Multicoloured Asian Ladybird
12 October 2007

Found this Multicoloured Asian Ladybird at Hazel's school.  We originally thought it was a Harlequin Ladybird (an invasive species from Asia that is sold in Europe as a biological control for aphids which out-competes local ladybirds and then eats them and other insect eggs): our thanks to Kevin Ker for the correction. The giveaway is apparently the 'M' black marking on the back of its head.

Multicoloured Asian Ladybird

P.S. Further thanks to Jamie Hooper from Guernsey for pointing out that the Harlequin Ladybird and the Multicoloured Asian Ladybird are the same thing...

Rosemary Leaf Beetle
7 September 2007

Hazel found this very pretty shiny beetle, about 8 mm long, on her book-bag today.  It turns out to be a Rosemary Leaf Beetle, a native of Southern Europe where it is a pest of rosemary and lavender.

Rosemary Leaf Beetle Rosemary Leaf Beetle Rosemary Leaf Beetle

Ladybird Larvae
28 April 2007

Our garden path had about ten ladybird larvae wandering across it this afternoon.  Alice transported them to an aphid-infested honeysuckle.


More Spawn
12 April 2007

Thought this worth a picture, not only because it is the second batch of frog spawn to appear in our pond this year, but because there was a frog obligingly sitting beside it for a photo.

Frog with

Wasp Beetle
28 January 2007

Found this creature wandering across our lounge carpet this evening.  It is apparently a Wasp Beetle, named for its keenness to imitate wasps, not simply by the yellow banding but because it hares around and taps its antennae just like a wasp as well.

Wasp Beetle

A Moth From Orlando
2 January 2007

Not really from our garden, and a moth picture so you might expect it to be in the moths section, but since we photographed it in Orlando we've put it here instead to avoid confusion with the UK moths.  It was photographed in the day time in a swampy area and we think it is a worn Large Maple Spanworm Moth (Prochoerodes transversata or Prochoerodes lineola) - see here for our source of identification.  From a more reasonable distance it looks exactly like a fallen autumn leaf. 

Large Maple Spanworm Moth
                                (Prochoerodes transversata) 

Hawthorn Shield Bug
17 September 2006

From the moth trap, a Hawthorn Shield Bug.

 Hawthorn Shield Bug

Grey Dagger Caterpillar
17 September 2006

Another caterpillar, found on the apple tree this time.  It's the caterpillar of a Grey Dagger moth, which we've probably caught in our moth trap (see here and here), though we were never sure whether we had caught a Grey Dagger or a Dark Dagger.  Now we know which it's more likely to have been. 

Grey Dagger caterpillar

More Caterpillars
10 September 2006

While gardening today we found four more caterpillars.  We think the top three are all Bright-line Brown-eye, the top two being brown and green forms (see what UKLeps has to say here) and the third being a younger one; we don't know what the fourth is though. We were hoping to hatch out some moths/butterflies to confirm their identities, but these over-winter in pupal form so we thought it best to release them back to the wild.

Bright-line Brown-eye
                                  caterpillar in its brown form, about 2
                                  cm long
The green form of the
                                  Bright-line Brown-eye caterpillar,
                                  slightly longer at about 3 cm
A smaller version of
                                  the above
Black and
                                  white hairy caterpillar about 1.5 cm

Speckled Wood
28 August 2006

Another cheat.  We should probably change the title of this page.  This time a Speckled Wood which we saw when we were visiting in Sheffield.


Humming-bird Hawk-moth
19 August 2006

A bit of a cheat this since it's not actually from our garden, but we had to put the photos somewhere and Alice has seen one in our garden previously.  We went to Hatfield Forest to entertain the kids for an afternoon and found a Buddleia that was covered in butterflies including Peacocks, Red Admirals, Large Whites, Painted Ladies and a Silver-washed Fritillary but, most amazingly, a pair of Humming-bird Hawk-moths.  We didn't have the digital camera with us, so here is the best we could do with our standard camera.  Amazing creatures, hovering in the air just like a Humming Bird with their long tongues poking into the flowers.

Humming-bird Hawk-moth 

Humming-bird Hawk-moth

White Plume Moth Out
18 August 2006

The White Plume Moth hatched out today.  We hadn't even realised that the caterpillar had become a pupa, but this would probably explain why it was so immobile and firmly attached to the leaf.

White Plume Moth hatched-out White Plume Moth pupa case

7 August 2006

While picking up weeds in the garden we found a 10 mm long green caterpillar.  Wandered Scott from the bird forum moth ID list has identified it as a White Plume Moth larva, as pictured on UKMoths here. We've put it in a box with some bind weed, its food plant, to see if we can hatch an adult

Green hairy caterpillar, about 10
                                mm long

Extras From South Wales
7 August 2006

During a visit to Ystrad Mynach in South Wales (12 miles north of Cardiff), a number of extras landed in the moth trap.  Here they are.

A Dor beetle, a variety of Dung Beetle:

Dor Beetle, a
                                variety of Dung Beetle

Several Burying Beetles, so called because they bury carcasses to lay their eggs on:

                                Burying Beetles

A Forest Bug, a variety of Shield Bug:

Forest Bug, a
                                variety of Shield Bug

An Ichneumon Wasp:


Another form of Caddis Fly:

Caddis Fly

Bracket Fungus
30 July 2006

The apple tree in our garden has grown the most enormous bracket fungus, about 30 cm across.  Here it is.

                                fungus on the apple tree

23 July 2006

Since it's British Butterfly Conservation Week, we thought we'd take a look at all the creatures flying around our Buddleia today.  Some we managed to get photographs of.  We saw:

For the record, later in the week Alice saw several Painted Lady's (the butterfly) around the town.

Peacock butterfly Red Admiral butterflyRed Admiral butterfly
Red-tailed Bumble BeeWhite-tailed Bumble BeeDrone
                                        Fly (a sort of Hoverfly)Flesh

15 July 2006

OK, so this is not exactly a set of photos from the garden however this is the only vaguely logical place to put them on this website.

Our old microwave has begun failing intermittently so we bought a new one today and thought we'd have a go at doing those things you're not supposed to do with the old one.  Found a bunch of aluminium foil, ripped it up a bit, then put it in for a minute.  It sparked a fair amount, though not as much as we'd expected.  Afterwards the foil didn't look blackened or anything, however it must have got up to a pretty high temperature as there were some lumps of blackened metal etched into the glass turntable.  In fact all the sparking seemed to be taking place where the aluminium met the glass.  We wonder why?

The aluminium
                                  foil in the microwave The
                                  microwave in action
Burnt metal
                              etched into the surface of the glass

2 July 2006

Alice has been working in the school wildlife area refurbishing and extending their pond.  She came home with a present for our pond - a bucket containing 5 newts.  Quite large creatures - at least 5 cm long.  We poured them in to join the smallish frogs that we hope resulted from the tadpoles we cultured earlier.

Newt, more than 5 cm long 
This newt is smaller and has a
                                  bit of its tail missing

More Caddis Flies?
30 June 2006

Another set of distinctive flies in the moth trap today.  Given the long antennae we think they are Caddis Flies, but they are quite a lot smaller than the ones we've seen previously.

Caddis Fly? 

Vine Weevil
25 June 2006

Really pretty, this Vine Weevil which appeared from under the moth trap this weekend: very fetching golden flecks on its wing cases.  However, its larva is a garden pest, feeding on the roots of Primulas and Fuchias in particular.  Our Primulas are doing fine, so we can't have many of these.

Vine Weevil

Lilly Beetle Larva
18 June 2006

In an attempt to make Rob dislike the pretty but destructive Lilly Beetle rather more, Alice showed him the Lilly Beetle larva which sits in its own excrement.  It's working...

                                Beetle Larva in its own excrement 

22 April 2006

The frog spawn disappeared a few days ago, which got us worried, but looking more closely this morning there are little teeny tiny tadpoles in the pond.  Not a great cluster of them, as you sometimes see, but a smattering.  Nice.

Tadpoles Tadpoles

Frog Spawn In The Pond
9 April 2006

For the first time ever in our current pond we've got an enormous ball of frog spawn.  It's difficult to see with the reflections in the water, but if you look carefully you can see that it goes all the way down to the bottom of the picture.  Neither of the two lots of spawn we had in our old pond resulted in tadpoles.  If this lot hatches we will post photos later.

Frog spawn

Fourteen-spot Ladybird
30 July 2005

Another Ladybird caught in the moth trap.

Fourteen-spot Ladybird

Garden Newt
10 June 2005

Alice found a newt in the garden today and managed to get a slightly fuzzy video of it.  Finger was introduced for scale.


Eyed Ladybird
28 May 2005

Caught in our moth trap today was a particularly attractive ladybird, apparently an Eyed Ladybird.


Caterpillars In Hazel's Feathers
21 May 2005

Hazel was looking through her collection of stuff (which includes feathers) today and found a load of small white caterpillars with their own caddis-fly like homes to live in.  Photo of one below.  They are the larvae of the Case-bearing Clothes Moth and in this case they have formed their homes out of silk and feathers.

Home of
                                caterpillar on a piece of cloth with
                                what appears to be the pupae case on the

Spider With Fly
1 May 2005

In our early moth trapping sessions this year we caught two tiny spiders of the type below each frantically running around with their own catches.

                                with catch

Slug Eggs
19 September 2004

Found loads of slug eggs (and slugs) while removing rubbish bags from the garden.  We kept some of the eggs in a jar in the hope of watching littul slugs hatch out.  Then Alice is going to kill them. <later> Actually, she needn't have worried as the eggs dry out pretty rapidly if you don't keep them under something wet [note to self for next time].

Slug Eggs

Caddis Flies
1 August 2004 (and more later on 30 July 2005)

Caught these in our moth trap.  Didn't have any idea what they were initially, but apparently they are Caddis Flies.  Having only seen the larvae before in Welsh brooks as a kid, it's good to see the adults.

Caddis Fly
                                au naturelle (photograph taken 30 July
                                fly with opaque wings (picture taken 30
                                July 2005)
Caddis Fly

1 August 2004

Lounging in our moth trap, for some reason, this Weevil is one of 400 British species.


18 July 2004 and 1 August 2004

For the sake of completeness, a few Lacewings with their tiny red eyes.


Green Shield Bug Nymph
4 July 2004

This, we believe, is the nymph of the Green Shield Bug.  It's certainly not a Green Shield Bug, but it has the look of it. Nymphs hatch from eggs and change into adults through a series of body moults (rather than going through a pupal stage, as in butterflies or moths).

Green Shield Beetle nymph

Hover Fly - Syrphus ribesii
20 June 2004

Rather disappointed that this just turned out to be a Hover Fly.  It looked far more exciting in the flesh, with the bold yellow stripes and the bulging purple eyes.  We're apparently having a bit of an epidemic (swarms have been reported on Radio 4) due to a surfeit of aphids, which they feed on.

Hover Fly - Syrphus ribesii

Cabbage White Wasp
4 June 2004

We found a chrysalis on the ground next to some dead nettles and kept it in a jar.  Out came a Cabbage White Wasp, rather than a Cabbage White butterfly.  Still pretty though.
Cabbage White Wasp
Chrysalis the wasp
                                            hatched from (note lid cut
Inside - it's empty!

Lesser Stag Beetle
15 May 2004

Found in the garden on 15th May, near the compost heap.

                                Stag BeetleLesser Stag Beetle Upside-Down

Lilly Beetle
15 May 2004

Rob thought this was really pretty, but Alice dismissed it as a pest for Lilly lovers.


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