The Way I See Things


Woundwort orgy

I was very happy when I spotted one woundwort shieldbug in the garden on Saturday, so you'll be able to imagine how pleased I was today to count thirty six of them - thirty five having a love-in on the green alkanet under the apple tree, plus Saturday's singleton still hanging out by itself over in the rose bed. I felt quite sorry for him (or her), not realising that there was a party going on just across the lawn.

I think this is one of the prettiest of the shieldbugs, but it has been a rarity in my garden until now - though having said that, it's very small, at about 6mm in length, so it would be quite easy to overlook it unless the light caught its distinctive copper and white markings. Its favoured larval foodplant is hedge woundwort, though it will also eat black horehound and lamium, and I think that this sudden population explosion must be due to the fact that I've allowed these plants to grow in some of my flower beds. If you leave it unweeded, they will come - or something like that.

The biggest news of the day was that I found a damselfly exuvia on the soft rush growing out of the wildlife pond, though the occupant (most probably an Azure Damselfly) was long gone. That'll teach me to sit around in my pajamas doing stuff on the computer when it's sunny outside. Anyway, leaving aside the fact that I missed the emergence, I'm thrilled skinny: R and I installed that pond just over a year ago, and though we saw plenty of damsel eggs being laid in it last summer, this is the first evidence we've had of the larvae doing well enough to complete their life cycle. The fact that we've created a functioning Odonata habitat makes me quite proud, and just a little emotional.

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