Admirals and bumbles on the ivy, Melveille du Jour on lichen, more moths, and a toad.
Today was cold and wet but yesterday was bright and sunny and our Ivy patch (image 1) was in full flower and, fluttering around and feeding on the ivy nectar, were two brilliant Red Admirals (images 2, 3 and 4), the glory of our autumnal butterflies. I read that red admirals are mostly spring migrants arriving from north Africa and central Europe and so these autumnal insects will be their offspring. If we have a warm winter, they may survive and emerge from time to time when the sun shines. Amazing that such a bright insect depends on stinging nettle as a larval foodplant.
The ivy was also supporting Honey Bees (image 5), Buff-tailed Bumblebees (image 6) and Wasps (image 7) and the occasional hover fly. Ivy is so often neglected but it forms such a valuable nectar and berry source late in the autumn on which many insects and birds depend.
In contrast were the Melveille du Jour moths (image 8) with their intricate green, white and black markings making them disappear on a background of tree lichens (images 9 and 10). The larvae feed on oak leaves and the adults feed at night on ivy flowers and so to find them try looking at ivy flowers by torchlight or, as in this case, use a light trap.
Other autumnal moths attracted by light in our garden have been this brilliant Mottled Umber (image 11) whose larvae feed on a wide range of native trees and shrubs. A larger moth has been the Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (image 12) which seldom flies after September. A brilliant moth but the bane of box plant growers is the Box-tree Moth (image 13) with its silvery wings and black margins making this moth easy to identify. Rather special has been the dull but occasional immigrant moth the Scarce Bordered Straw (image14) and which occasionally reaches the UK from southern Europe and north Africa.
I find it amazing just how many of our moths, butterflies and other insects manage to migrate to the UK all the way from southern Europe and North Africa.
Venturing out in the rain a few days ago, I almost trod on this adult Toad sitting on the ground in front of our kitchen window (image 15). The toad got fed up with the camera flash and moved a short distance all defensive and puffed up into a round brown ball (image 16).