Peter Hunt sent in this cracking shot of an Elephant hawk moth larva. Apparently marooned a couple of inches above the waterline on a pond plant, he moved it to a Fuschia. Caterpillars generally only eat a few specific plants and that’s on the list, so Peter probably gave it a good chance.
Thanks for sending it in!
I saw this very large Garden spider (Araneus diadematus) crawling slowly up my porch – and latterly on the hessian bag where I tempted it for a better photograph in the light. It was a very large example and strikingly coloured a deep red with dark brown legs and ruby red abdomen. I’ve never seen a red variation before and marvelled at it for some time. I had to check online to reassure myself it really was just a standard Garden spider and I hadn’t discovered a new species. What a magnificent brute!
It’s been a little while, so time for an update! Summer lingered late into September, and I even found myself eating lunch al fresco in October last weekend. Autumn has finally landed however, with plenty of wet and wild weather to knock the leaves off the trees.
- Garden spiders are everywhere, stringing their massive webs across paths, waiting to trap unsuspecting arachnophobes. The one pictured above was on the front my recycling bin and was about the largest I’ve ever seen. Absolutely massive!
- One evening I watched a smaller male Garden spider tentatively approaching a female in order to mate. She wasn’t keen and batted him away a few times before he managed to get in there. I might post the video sometime soon.
- I’ve run into a few foxes recently, in my own garden and whilst out running. I’m always a little nervous when only a couple of yards from a fox – you don’t know what they might do, especially if they’re desperately hungry, ill (usually mange) or feel threatened. Usually it’s “skulk away”.
- Such a long hot dry period, and yet when the rains come, the slugs and snails are there right away in incredible numbers. I could imagine people of days gone by imagining that they actually come down in the rain itself overnight.
Veronica sends in this absolutely brilliant close up of what she reckons to be a Tree bumble bee. I’ve no reason to doubt her identification, and some of the other pictures show the white tail. It’s only been in the UK for about 10 years but has spread very rapidly, apparently due to its tendency to nest in our abundant bird boxes.
If you’re in the vicinity, why not check out the Sussex Festival of Nature on Sunday (22 June 2014) at Stanmer Park. It’s a free, family friendly event, but they’re keen for you not to arrive by car.
Jakkii sent in a lovely close-up photo of a Nursery web spider carrying its egg sac. She says that it came out to investigate when she wiggled the plant and has remained resident in the same plant for a while. You may well spot them if you look closely at leafy, low plants at this time of year. Soon they will build the ‘nursery’ for which they are named – a webby tent – and guard the little spiderlings within it.
Thanks to Veronica for sending in these fantastic photos of a Poplar Hawk-moth resting on a wall in West Somerset. You can see its characteristic repose, with abdomen curved into the air and hind-wings swung ahead of forewings.
The second picture below gives a brilliantly detailed look at the unusual wing geometry from the side. I also love the way the antennae curve back around like the arms of sports sunglasses. Click for higher resolution versions of each image.
Photographer Rob Clayton sends in a couple of cracking shots of Harlequin ladybirds. Nice one Rob – excellent pictures! Click through to high-res versions, with some wonderful up close details.
Did you notice the redesign?
It’s actually somewhat forced, courtesy of a move from Typepad hosting, to a self-hosted WordPress system. However it should give more control and scope for improvement in the future. Let me know if you spot anything that’s broken or annoying!
You might recall back in October 2013 Steph from Worcester sent in pictures of her 'pet' Pale tussock moth caterpillars. As we left the story, they had cocooned, but now many months later they have emerged. And don't they look lovely.
In the bottom right picture, just to the right of the moth, you'll see what looks very much like the 'silver-brain slime mould' (my choice of words) that I've covered once before.