Tuesday, July 30, 2019
For several years, we've been allowing wild ragwort to grow in our garden over the summer. The reason is that it's the food source for the cinnabar moth caterpillar, and cinnabar moths are apparently a species in decline in the UK. (I've personally never seen an adult cinnabar moth, though I have occasionally seen their caterpillars in parks and wild areas.)
We've never found any in our garden -- until yesterday! I was looking at some of our ragwort and saw these little orange critters crawling around. They're tiny compared to the caterpillars I've seen in the wild, but I'm pretty sure they're cinnabar moths.
I was so excited to see this! I put a wire plant support next to (but not touching) the ragwort so the dog won't brush against it and dislodge the caterpillars. Hopefully they'll live a few weeks and then pupate and become moths. Apparently birds don't like to eat them because they absorb toxins from the ragwort, but like all insects the vast majority still die for one reason or another before ever reaching adulthood. My fingers are crossed!
I also found this crab spider on our cosmos, feasting on a bee. These pale spiders lurk beneath flowers and grab unsuspecting insects that are drawn to the blossoms. It's hard to be a bug!
I had a very quiet day yesterday. I mostly sat in the garden and got caught up on magazines. I don't know about you, but I find little more oppressive than a stack of unread magazines. Books don't affect me the same way -- a book can sit on my shelves for years without being read, as long as I plan to get around to it one day. But I gotta stay on top of magazines, I suppose because their content is usually more timely.
Dave left yesterday morning for Heathrow, bound for the U.S. He's going to visit his parents in Michigan and also attend Drum Corps finals in Indianapolis. He'll be gone about two weeks. So it's just me and Olga holding down the fort. I have a few small trips I hope to make in and around London, and then I'll be going back to work around the time Dave comes back. The summer always passes too quickly.