The Butterfly Expert

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We have bought a pair of rustic Oak seats to go in amongst the new Oak trees in the second meadow which we think look rather fine. Good for summer evenings with a chilled glass of wine.

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I went on a butterfly walk at Knepp yesterday, guided by the famous and flamboyant butterfly expert, Matthew Oates. Of course I took the opportunity to ask him about our Small Blue Butterfly colony here. The Small Blue population is usually all do do with the abundance of their larval food plant, the Kidney Vetch. Last year, we had loads of Small Blues but hardly any Kidney Vetch. Therefore, only small numbers of eggs would have been laid. So this year, even though we have masses and masses of Kidney Vetch, there are no eggs from last year and so no butterflies. Kidney Vetch is effectively a biennial and so really needs to have some reseeding every year to stop this boom and bust. In order for it to be able to reseed, we need bare patches of soil in amongst the sward of grass and these bare patches can be produced by animal grazing or summer drought.

So, food for thought there:  we need to think about how to allow the Kidney Vetch to reseed naturally but also I could gather some of the seed and germinate it in the greenhouse and then plant the seedlings out.

Some more weird and wonderful insects have been spotted over the last few days:

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Oedemera nobilis. The Swollen-thighed Beetle or Thick Legged Flower Beetle
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A currently unidentified parasitic wasp

 

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The wasp from the side showing its remarkable mouth parts
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A Kite-tailed Robberfly. Machimus atricapillus. 12-15 mm long – double the length of a Housefly. Catches and eats other insects, particularly flies.
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Another angle of the Robberfly
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Lots of these Ringlet Butterflies have arrived in the meadows
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The underside of the Ringlet, showing the ringlets.

June has galloped past and is coming to a close. Is it 6 weeks since we have had any rain now? The Ragwort season is just about to start here, with the distinctive yellow flower heads just appearing above the grasses. Pulling Ragwort will be job no. 1 for July.

 

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