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Miranda Hodgson

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Butterflies and newts awake, pond snails laying eggs

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 18 Mar 2014 at 03:22 PM

The warm weather just lately has encouraged a huge amount of wildlife activity. Species of all types are suddenly visible and active and, in some cases, they are being seen in larger numbers than at the height of last summer. Last Sunday, the 16th, I saw more butterflies in one day than all of last year put together. Some of them, the Peacocks (Inachis io) in particular, had overwintered on the rafters in our garage and we left the door open so they could get out. After warming themselves in the sun for 15 minutes or so, they flew off in search of the flowers holding their first meal of the year. I also saw the beautiful Comma (Polygonia c-album) and yellow Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni).


This Peacock butterfly chose an old gas bottle to bask on.

 

A large number of ladybirds (Coccinellidae) have also been seen. Hopefully they will make short work of overwintering aphids and reduce infestations on the roses this summer.

 

 

 Seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)

 

The pond is a big attraction for me in spring and this year, tiny though it may be, it hasn’t disappointed. Newts had not been seen since last October, when I came across a juvenile getting ready to hibernate in the south-facing border. I have no idea where it ended up, but it had a choice of sites – two log piles, the compost bays, holes in the garden walls, under various stones or a burrow in the soil. The first newt I saw in the pond this spring was also a juvenile, though whether or not it was the same one is anyone’s guess. It was a bit larger than October’s newt. The other newt in the pond was still an aquatic larva no more than 1.5cm long and it must have overwintered.

There were a few autumn leaves in the water and I decided to remove them before they rotted. With one handful came a string of water weed and attached to the end of it was a strip of jelly-like material. I held it up and noticed that it glittered in the sunlight as if the inside was faceted. Here is how it looked from a distance…

 

 

 

 

And here is how it looked close-up.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful, but what is it? They are the eggs of a pond snail, possibly the small common pond snail of the genus Lymnaea. I’ll be keeping an eye open to see just what type of snails live in the pond.

Comments

pushkin said:

Fabulous photographs, especially the Peacock.

on 18 Mar 2014 at 06:06 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thank you, pushkin! That Peacock really stands out against the blue background, doesn't it.

on 19 Mar 2014 at 05:12 PM

Phot's-Moll said:

Great pictures, Miranda.

I haven't seen any butterflies yet, but there are lots of bees and ladybirds in the garden.

on 20 Mar 2014 at 08:46 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

I'm curious as to where all the butterflies came from, Phot's, as we saw hardly any last year. Glad you've bees and ladybirds, that's a start and hopefully the butterflies will be along promptly.

on 21 Mar 2014 at 06:16 PM