Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Larval Life / Butterfly Bush

Blogging on here has been sporadic at best this year. Oh, you noticed? It's not that I've done nothing or have nothing to say, more that I've been more active on other forums (Facebook since a PSL group was set-up), and Twitter as that was the forum of choice for the Foot-it challenge in January). I've also been posting updates and photos on the 1000k and Garden Moth Challenge blogs. I haven't been uploading anything to my Flickr photostream, though that's just down to time.

I don't want this blog to continue to fester in the background though, and gradually as the 2013 challenges start to wane I'll be posting on here more frequently. Probably not much point trying to catch up anything, though I do now have a lot of stuff for rainy days etc.

So recent topical stuff seems appropriate, and I'll start with some larval life. Over the years I've found and reared a fair number of moth species, some with ease and success and a few with bad outcomes (anything that needs to be overwintered is usually a bad idea in particular). I'm always pleased then when I find a larva that I've not seen before, and often they'll be common species. I found this one earlier in the week ..

It was openly resting on bramble, and the head capsule looked a bit odd so I presume it was dormant pending an instar change. It wasn't familiar at all, so I brought it home to ID and rear through to final instar. I eventually sussed out that it was a Peach Blossom, probably c3rd instar. After a day or so it did change and ID was certain.

Peach Blossom

Another species I'm seeing a lot at the moment is Grey Dagger, like this final instar that I found on 9th August. This is one that I instantly recognise in later instars.

Grey Dagger

I found a very small 1st instar larva on my garden Silver Birch at the start of August and bought in to rear. It must be the slowest growing larva I've ever kept, and it is still very small. I wasn't sure what it was initially but I am now increasingly sure it is also destined to be a Grey Dagger.

Almost certainly Grey Dagger

The final larva is one that I do recognise in all instars, and again I found it as an early instar on my garden birch. It's another ubiquitous species that is commonly found in the larval stage.


The last couple of weeks has brought a big increase in the numbers of butterflies locally, and later broods of Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell in particular seem to be abundan. Also a fair few Commas, and still plenty of Large Whites knocking about.

Garden buddleias are massively attractive to butterflies as everyone knows. We have a huge buddleia in our garden ..... actually, it is not in our garden but just fully overhangs and the trunk is next door. No idea what type of buddleia this is though; the flower spikes are yellow and the florets are in sort of balls. Whatever it is, it is very busy at the moment on warm sunny days with butterflies, bees and hoverflies.

We also have a more standard buddleia in our garden, but it is completely crap. I don't know why but it remains stunted and has no vigor, and yet this plant seems to be able to grow and flourish on the most bleak and infertile wasteland without any problem. The few flowers it does have are still effective though.

Given the upturn in numbers, and the presence of buddleia, I am surprised that both Painted Lady and Red Admiral have not turned up yet ths year. Also no Gatekeeper as yet. The only surprise was this Common Blue on my crappy plant, though sadly too brief to get a good photo in the breeze as it scarpered almost immediately after I grabbed this pants photo.


Broom Birder said...


Your Buddleia is Weyeriana- a 1930's cross between davidii (the common, usually purple one) and globosa. I purchased one from a garden centre about 10 years ago when I noticed how well it attracted butterflies around the visitors centre at Home-next-sea.

Skev said...

That's the one, thanks Matt. Certainly seems busy and flowers/flowering period seems to last a bit longer (though might be down to it being such a big and well-established bush).