27 Jun 2014

Holkham nightlife.

Stunning Swallow Tailed moth.

Its a real pleasure to work in the walled garden at the moment, we have reached a period of stability where nearly every plant is doing something special, be that attracting pollinators with showy blooms and heady frangrance or forming fruits in preparation for the next generation. 

The Holkhm garden team are busy deadheading and mulching to prolong the floral festivities as long as possible. 

The Bees and Butterflies are in abundance, not to mention the timid Green woodpeckers feeding in the Vineyard or the swarms of Goldfinches that flee from their banquet on approach.  Swallows and  Martins pierce the still air with their shrieks and draw attention to their aerial excellence, however rewarding this is to us we have often wondered about the night time incumbents of the garden.

We know about the usual night visitors such as slugs, voles and rabbits as they often leave evidence of their visit, but who else comes to visit the garden under the stars?  Fortunately we have some budding Lepidopterists in our volunteer team and this week we set a moth trap overnight, here's what we found.

If you can excuse the sub standard photography (this was a little more challenging than the usual plants) one of the first things you will notice is the diversity between species, every shape size and colour imaginable can be found in the moth kingdom.  Each one of these moths are built to fit an ecological niche, for example the White Satin Moth below is immaculate white, its host plant is Alder and Salix which have white downy undersides to their leaves providing a perfect cool place to hide in the daytime. 

The next thing i noticed are the wonderful names awarded to these creatures.  If you are interested below is our list of species from this week.
Buff Tip, Swallow Tailed Moth, Common Wainscot, Heart and Dart, Brimstone, Dark Arches, Common Footman, Burnished Brass, Cinnabar, Light Arches, White Brown Eye. Beautiful Hook Tip, Beautiful Golden Y, Large Yellow Underwing, White Satin Moth, Brown Line Bright Eye,Varied Coronet, Snout, Double Square Spot and Shoulder Striped Wainscot.

I'm told that the moths have varied flying times between species so a regular sample is necessary to see the range of creatures over the season, we intend to sample our moths on a monthly basis, here is the list from last month.
Peppered Moth, Light Brocade, White Ermine, Triple Lines, Small Elephant Hawk Moth, Heart and Dark, Pale Tussock, Common Swift, Marbles Brown, Great Prominent, Oak Hook Tip, Small Square Spot, Nutmeg.

The diversity of life in the walled gardens is incredible if you look in the right places, i wonder what we will discover next?

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