Pity the cabbage white

Dear Monty,



Having seen you protect your newly planted cabbages from cabbage white butterflies - it made me realise that I haven't seen many this year.

Despite warmth yesterday - a brief interlude with blue sky and a light wind there was a dearth of butterflies in the coal tip garden.

There were honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, hover flies, a gangly legged wasp, one hedge brown, one speckled wood and a common blue - that is all. Oh and a frog sheltering in the shady hosta and a silent peregrine falcon swooping overhead.

What has happened to all the insects ? What has happened to all the aphids this year ? Is it just me that is missing them ? I have seen no ladybirds or ladybird larvae - because there have been so few aphids - was it the birds that have snaffled them ?

I worry about the lack of insect numbers. We walked through a wild meadow full of meadow cranesbill and meadowsweet with the purple haze of knapweed in the grasses and yet there were one or two meadow brown butterflies. A silent field.

Our buddleia is usually covered in small tortoiseshells, commas, peacocks and red admirals but not one so far.





I converted to the love of insects late in my childhood, I remember at one time being petrified of them because of their sheer numbers - one memory in particular was of a walk through the long meadow grasses in the valley below Pennard Castle in Gower. The grasses were taller than me ( I am still of small stature - but not that small) they were full of grasshoppers,crickets, bees, beetles, daytime flying moths and a host of butterflies, the place was alive buzzing and chirruping.

I lament for the silence of the meadow and the loss of the abundance of life.


To try and capture the beauty of what is left I am continuing to make paintings  of the Pembrokeshire coastal path around St. David's. It is a soulful pilgrimage capturing in fresco nature's gardens on this thin strip of 'unproductive' ground. It still sings.







Paul

Comments

  1. You saddened me. Your pictures are very beautiful though. Xxxxx

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    1. It is sad Anne, when you reflect on how much life there used to be. Or perhaps it is just all my imagination ? x

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  2. Last year I looked hard but found no aphids here but no ladybirds either! This year, I've been treated to loads of ladybird larvae (first time I've seen them in the flesh) and now ladybirds. Bees (and wasps) are abundant but butterflies and moths less so. Lots of frogs, as usual, taunting resident cat who spends hours sitting by the pond being taunted! Birds are fewer, avoiding the local sparrowhawks who are now visiting daily. And I've looked hard and harder but have yet to discover a single aphid this year.

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    1. Your aphids may have been controlled by the ladybird larvae! It is odd though to have none at all - being at the bottom of a food chain - it is all the more concerning.


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  3. a silent field does sound grim.
    Aphids and ladybirds here.

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    1. Diana, The silence may be due to our changing climate or the use of pesticides or a combination of both. I was always worried by the presence of aphids but now I realise how important they are in the food chain !

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  4. I'm not sure where you're located, but maybe we have all your wildlife here in Derbyshire. The cabbage white butterflies have come out en masse today, after seeing very few this year - today there were dozens of them fluttering around the allotment. We've had loads of blackfly, and hence, loads of ladybirds - I'd not seen the pupa stage of ladybirds until this year, and now I have loads on my plot.

    As for the bees, well I'm glad I've planted even more flowers since there are masses of them as well.

    I think the moral is grow the right plants and they will come. Biodiversity will increase in gardens and on allotments where the right things are grown.

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    1. I'm in South Wales - I guess that there will be variation throughout regions and seasons. I deliberately grow both food plants for both caterpillars and butterflies - allow nettles, grasses , trefoil etc - have a pond - scrub areas - and usually see a variety of butterflies and insects - so usually I would agree - but having planted and developed the garden for wildlife it seems that it is not always true - this year they did not come - sadly.

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