Friday 3 June 2011

New garden Species

As regular readers will know, I have converted two thirds of my back garden to a wildlife garden with only native UK wild plants.

Just before you go through into the wildlife garden, the more formal garden has many cottage garden plants in it.

A couple of weeks ago, we noticed a few small caterpillars on one of the new plants that we put in this year.  the plant is a Verbascum,  and this type is called 'Southern Charms' and then the word mullein is mentioned.

Now Jac and had couldn't make up our minds about what type of caterpillar it was, because my caterpillar books were non existent, as all my guides tended to focus on the moth or butterfly form.  Jac thought it was a Burnet as we had those in the garden last year, but given that I had photographed that a bit ago in this blog, I was certain it wasn't that, but didn't know otherwise. 

Well at the same time we went to the Bird Fair that I reported here, and the good folks from the Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire said 'Oh, that's a Mullein' and showed us in the book that I mentioned recently Link below.

So we bought the book and what a great reference work it is.

Now the full latin name of the species is Shargacucullia verbasci., common name Mullein.  And the plant it was on Verbascum and the word Mullein on the label !!!!

So the moral is use all the clues in front of you and you might find things out for yourself.

Anyway, we either bought the plant with the eggs on it from the nursery - quite possible, or the moth came in overnight and laid - also possible.

Now the caterpillars went from very small to quite large, about 40mm and after a while disappeared.  So either the Blackbirds got them, or hopefully they have cocooned themselves in the ground.  If the latter, then we wont see the resulting moth for up to five years.

So this is the first caterpillar that I have bought you from the garden, although it wasn't in the wildlife garden.  So we still have to break that particular 'duck'

I had a great haul from the moth trap last night, as I continue to record the creatures of the night that we get here and will bring you some different species, with a couple of crackers in future posts.

So that's enough words, here's the little beastie on the larval foodplant.

Have a great weekend



  1. Hi Martin - a long time lurker after a bit of advice. You kindly switched me onto the LowePro mini trekker a few years back - looking for something which will accomodate a 7d with a Canon 300 2.8 w/2x tc. Very impressed with LowePro's build quality do wondered if had any recommendations.

  2. HI MarkO. Good to hear from you. Well that combo should still fit although you will need to reverse the hood, which doesnt make it quick to use straight out of the bag.

    It all depends if you have any other gear to carry at the same time.

    I still have my Mini Trekker and it gets some use.

    Have a look at the ThinkTank bags, and check out the dimensions of what you need against what they have.

    I bought a carry case just for my 300f2.8 from them, put that over my shoulder while the body and other lenses are in whatever other bag I am using at the time

    Hope this helps, and lets us know how you get on


  3. Thanks for the suggestions - good to know the Mini Trekker will still be of use and will certainly look into the carry case. Do either of you ever use / know anything about camera traps ? They've come down remarkabley in price recently - and my other half is now asking whether we could pick one up to get some shots of the foxes & badgers who are our nocturnal visitors. Could be an intersting article in the future maybe ? Whilst you're probably not going to win any awards with them, they do seem of interest to those interested in wildlife watching. Would be good to hear your thoughts.

  4. MarkO - re. camera traps. Keep your eye open on future blogs :-)