Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


Insect antics

Well, the Green Tortoise Beetle eggs hatched after 12 days (indoors – the outside ones haven’t hatched yet), and they are now almost two weeks old. But they have very strange ways…  Do not read on if you are of a sensitive disposition.  You have been warned.

This is one that was only just hatched, in side view.  It was all of about 2mm long, so getting things in focus was tricky.  The leaf hairs of the woundwort leaf look like a forest.

At the rear end of the larva, there are four dark spines.  In between the spines is the anus, which is extensible and can be  directed towards the upper two spines.  The big brown blob is excrement, which they use as a disguise.  Delightful.

Green Tortoise Beetle larva

Green Tortoise Beetle larva (Cassida viridis) on Hedge Woundwort (Stachys arvensis)

These next ones were probably the first to hatch, as they have had time to accumulate quite a decoration. It’s a slow process – about twenty minutes to produce each of those little brown sticks (maybe they have to let it dry gradually – ugh!)

Green Tortoise Beetle larvae (Cassida viridis) on Hedge Woundwort (Stachys arvensis)

Green Tortoise Beetle larvae (Cassida viridis) on Hedge Woundwort (Stachys arvensis)

This is how they looked a few days later, after giving them some fresh woundwort leaves:

Green Tortoise Beetle larva

Green Tortoise Beetle larva about five days old

And here’s how they look now, looking nothing like beetles at all, but about 5 mm long, and carrying a huge load. It includes cast larval skins as well as more excrement.

Green Tortoise Beetle larva

Green Tortoise Beetle, two week old larva

While I was checking the woundwort, to see if the outdoors ones had hatched, I came across another woundwort specialist. I would have missed it, thinking it was just a bit of dead leaf, if I hadn’t seen something very similar on the ispot wildlife identification website. The woundwort was a big clue for identifying it, and a bit of googling led me to the Woundwort Case-bearer moth. It’s also described on the UKmoths site – but it’s hardly an exciting looking moth.

The hairs on the casing come from the woundwort leaf – I think it cuts bits of leaf to make a cover like a tea-cosy. (Do you remember those? My aunt made one – it was thickly padded and had a clip at the top like a handbag – I’ve never seen another one like it.)

I assumed it was a pupa, and put it in the bottom of the box with the Green Tortoise Beetles, hoping that it might eventually hatch out. However, the next day, I realised it had moved, and that there was other evidence that it was a larva.

Woundwort Case-bearer moth's larval case

Woundwort Case-bearer moth’s larval case

It has been in there for several days, moving around when I wasn’t looking, but today I found it on the bottom of the box, looking dried out and dead.

Woundwort Case-bearer moth's larval case

Woundwort Case-bearer moth’s larval case

However, when I looked again, it had moved itself back onto a dried-up leaf, so I put it onto the fresh leaves.

It came out to say hello!

Woundwort case-bearer moth larva

Woundwort case-bearer moth larva

It clearly didn’t like being exposed on the top of the leaf, and within a few minutes it had crawled over the edge to the underside – very hazardous when all it has to hang on with are tiny little feet, amongst all those long hairs, and dragging round its huge case.

Woundwort case-bearer moth larva

Woundwort case-bearer moth larva looking over the edge

Woundwort case-bearer moth larva

Woundwort case-bearer moth larva – let’s see what it’s like down here

Well, that’s turned into rather a long post. I also have loads of photos of colourful bugs from last weekend, when I repeated the Garden Bioblitz that I did a year ago. I was surprised to find quite a lot more different species – but I think I’ll save that for another day.



6 months from ‘graduation’ – and a caterpillar with a turquoise horn

This is just a post for me with lots of numbers in (and a caterpillar).  I say I don’t care how fast I run, but I’m not sure it’s quite true.  🙂

I completed the NHS couch to 5k programme six months ago today, so to celebrate, I decided I should re-run the same route.

On February 13th, I ran 2.58 miles (4.15k) at 15:30 min/mile.  I ran for forty minutes – I did an extra ten minutes to prove to myself that I didn’t need to stop at thirty.

Today I ran for thirty minutes (my knee was beginning to complain, so I didn’t carry on past 30), 2.24 miles, at 13:25 min/mile.  Not quite as fast as I managed in the middle of the 5×50 challenge in May (a parkrun at 13:21) but good enough to make me feel I am making progress.

Slow and steady.  🙂

Finished painting two windows today too, and found this strange caterpillar while sweeping up the car-parking space.  I think it’s probably a hawk-moth of some sort.  Amazing turquoise colour.

Maybe a hawk-moth caterpillar

Caterpillar with turquoise horn on it’s tail-end – probably some sort of hawk-moth




My back was OK again today, hurrah!  Yoga rules.  I went for a walk to look for butterflies and dragonflies as it was sunny. I didn’t see many, and they were all camera-shy, so I ended up taking pictures of various other bugs instead. I used to be really scared of crane flies, or Daddy-long-legses (? dubious plural) but they can be quite pretty, rather like dragonflies.  Apparently there are loads of different UK species (hundreds!)  There was quite a range of colours in the insect world today.

I walked 2.5 km (in about 2 hours – taking photos is very time-consuming when bug-chasing) and ran a tiny bit, but it was on a sideways slope, and pretty uncomfortable, so when a moth distracted me, I stopped and didn’t start up again.

6-spot Burnet Moth

6-spot Burnet Moth

Bee-like fly

Bee-like fly – looks like a bee, but it has a fly’s eyes

Crane fly

A crane fly

Crane fly

A different crane fly with pretty wings

Red and black froghopper

Red and Black Froghopper – startling!


Blue-bottle – I have always hated flies with a passion, but have to admit that this is quite striking

This gallery contains 6 photos

Leave a comment

Moths and butterflies

Well, not many moths and butterflies, but I did see two Green-veined White butterflies, quite a few Burnet moth chrysalises and a Yellow Shell moth.  I walked just over 3 miles, which included edges of wheat and rape fields, a stream, a path through a meadow with buttercups and clover – just beginning to flower, and the edge of a lake at a stately home that is now an art gallery (Compton Verney) and some woodland.  Later on, I went to see a friend in the village, and jogged most of the way home, including a short steepish hill.

 footpath bridge

Footpath bridge over stream

footpath direction

Footpath direction post

Burnet moth chrysalis

Burnet moth chrysalis on Meadow Foxtail grass

hawthorn blossom

Hawthorn blossom

Green-veined White

Green-veined White butterfly on Cow Parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris

pink Hogweed

Pink Hogweed flowers (just part of the flowerhead) – usually they are white

Yellow Shell moth

Yellow Shell moth


Leave a comment

Roundabout delight

We visited a nearby road cutting that is managed for wildlife.  Rather limited Juneathon activity, but good exercise for ankles on the steep banks.  When the new road was built 20 years or so ago, instead of adding topsoil and grass seed, the banks were deliberately left bare, for plants to recolonise naturally.  Now it is a particularly good place to find wild flowers, and the insects that visit them.

Bug's eye view of the footpath to the roundabout and cutting

Bug’s-eye view of footpath to the road cutting, with red clover flower

DSC04994 Sherardia arvensis Field Madder

Field Madder, Sherardia arvensis
Tiny pink flowers about 2 mm across

Leontodon hispidus Rough Hawkbit

Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus

vetch ants buttercups and daisies

Common Vetch, with black ants feeding from the nectaries on the leaves.

Dingy Skipper

Dingy Skipper butterfly
Quite a rare species. These are very small butterflies that move very fast, and are hard to see!


Burnet Moth caterpillar

Wild Carrot in bud

Wild Carrot, in bud.
Beautifully lacy

Common Spotted Orchid Dactyorhiza fuchsii

Common Spotted Orchid, Dactyorhiza fuchsii
They were just coming into flower.

Latticed Heath moth

Latticed Heath moth
A small but striking moth