Little Visitors

After the bees got all the attention last week, I thought I’d pay some to a few of our other garden visitors. I find a lot more wildlife in the garden here than in our previous garden, so there’s often something new or unfamiliar.

The metallic-looking little beetle in the top photo is a first for me. I’d never seen one before but I have read about them. This is a rosemary beetle (Chrysolina americana) and actually an unwelcome intruder because it feeds on various aromatic plants. (These include rosemary, lavender, sage and thyme, all of which grow in our garden.) Luckily I’ve only seen the one so far, so I hope it hasn’t brought its friends! Apparently the damage they do may not harm the plants much, and the beetles themselves can just be picked off the plants.

I never use chemicals in the garden and prefer to hope that predators will naturally get rid of pests. In the case of rosemary beetles, their larva are eaten by birds, frogs and other beetles. So it’s good to have plenty of hungry carnivorous beasties around!

Greenfly tend to suddenly appear in large numbers every summer but luckily the ladybirds do too. A few weeks ago I found the weird-looking larvae of ladybirds in amongst a swarm of greenfly – I hope they had good appetites! There are lots of ladybirds around this year so I think they must have had a an easy winter. (I tend to see them grouped in curled up leaves that have fallen in autumn. Our garden is never too tidy, so there are plenty of places for them to hibernate.)

Another visitor that comes here in large numbers is the hoverfly. (Pictured above.) There are always a lot of these tiny pollinators around the garden – many more than there are bees. I like to watch these little brightly-coloured flies as they zoom around amongst the flower heads. And I find they will often be very obliging and sit still for long enough for me to focus on them when I’m out with my camera. Wish the bees would do that too!

The visitors that we’re missing this year are butterflies. There have been a few Red Admirals and some Large Whites but not much else. Last year there were often Peacock butterflies (below) sunning themselves on our brick path – sometimes as many as a dozen along the length of it. This year I have seen none so far. The low numbers are probably due to all the cold and rain we’ve had this year, so perhaps things will improve as the weather does. The ‘Big Butterfly Count’ survey is being held in the UK at the moment. Let’s hope that the results of that are a bit more encouraging!

17 thoughts on “Little Visitors

  1. I’ve never seen your Peacock butterflies; they’re beautiful. I enjoyed seeing the ladybug on the Eryngo. Which species is that? We have three native species here in Texas, and it’s one of my favorite plants. I was astonished to find a hairstreak on one of my patio plants this morning. It lingered for several hours on its leaf, so it may have been newly emerged. It was hidden behind some other leaves that made it hard to photograph, so I did the only reasonable thing, and cut off some leaves.

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    1. The eryngo is Eryngium planum ‘Blaukappe’ (Blue Cap). A friend gave me several young plants of it and they’ve settled in well. It’s the first time they’ve grown well here and they’ve had a couple of seedlings too. πŸ™‚ (And they’re great for frost photographs.) The hairstreak must have been a delightful surprise – glad you were able to photograph it! (Well worth sacrificing a few leaves.)

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    1. Ladybirds, hoverflies and bees seem to be my most numerous wildlife here – and greenfly. Plenty of frogs too! Would love to see more butterflies – used to get a lot of them on the butterfly bushes but not now.

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  2. Beautiful images once again Ann! Love the Ladybug or Ladybird image – have not seen them here in Florida but they were very prominent where I grew up in Indiana. Do you get Dragonflies? We have those everywhere and they are pretty big when they get to flying around. Your butterflies are gorgeous – I have never seen the Peacock variety.

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    1. Thanks Syd! We do get dragonflies, they always make me think of helicopters! We get the smaller damselflies and mayflies too – love watching them! πŸ™‚ Sadly, I haven’t seen any Peacock butterflies yet this year but there’s still time.

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  3. Our butterflies seemed a bit late in appearance this year but I am now seeing more and I hope the same will be true for you, Ann. Love your little hoverfly visitor. Every day when I go out to see what’s in the yard there are always many of them.

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    1. I’m still hopeful for the butterflies. The hoverflies amuse me with their zipping flight around the flowers – and the fact that they can fly backwards!

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  4. Butterflies have been slow to appear this year but they are about in large numbers now – mostly tortoiseshells and peacocks. I was delighted to see a dragonfly sitting on a rock by the new pond this morning. The pond is not complete and needs planting with marginals – so far it just houses the waterlilies while the other ponds are completed. But is just shows that if you make the right conditions, wildlife will find it.

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    1. It’s so exciting when you find a new wild visitor – and your pond is bound to bring lots of them. I’m still working on building a pond here and looking forward to seeing new residents. πŸ™‚

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