Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Comma Butterfly – 1st Instar Caterpillar

Yay, I knew there was a purpose for me keeping the nettles; today I found my first Comma caterpillar… I just hope to see more.

Definitely won’t be chopping them back quite just yet… The things one does for wildlife, huh?

This little dude, is apparently on its 1st instar, and by the time it’s ready to pupate it’ll look quite different.

2011 Liz.
All rights reserved. Content created by Liz for Gwirrel’s Garden.


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

A lovely fellow! I'm like you, I get so excited when I find things like this in the garden. Careful though, once you realize just how many food and habitat plants you have for such creatures in your garden, you'll stop weeding or pruning entirely! should see the state of parts of our garden at the moment...well, then again, maybe not ;)

Liz said...

Hi CV,

Haha, I know exactly what you mean... Already I don't prune the hedge because I know how much the Bees and other insects love the blooms... I am also loathe to cut the elder because the insects love the blooms and the birds then love the berries - there's just no good time to cut it! Arghhhhhhh.

I even allow grass to grow long in areas because many butterfly use grasses as larval foodplants.

I'll also let you in on a little secret *shhh* I rarely ever weed anyway. I just don't ever really have to. I do little bits here and there but for the most part I rarely weed. Maybe because I always get rid of the roots - might be more time consuming, but in the long-run it saves a lot of effort.

Donna said...

Liz so many are seeing caterpillars in the garden...your photos are wonderful..I need to check out the Queen Anne's lace and milkweed this weekend

Randy Emmitt said...


I gathered Common Buckeye cats for Meg's second grade classroom on Sunday. Good thing we got the the mowers cut down everything on Tuesday. Enjoyed your cats.

Nutty Gnome said...

I don't think I've ever really looked at a catapiller that close up before Liz!
Bits of our garden are left wild on purpose (honest!!!) for the insects and wildlife ....may be I ought to go and have a look what's lurking in there :)

How's the dissertation coming on?

shirl said...

Ah... well done you for 'keeping' nettles! I've considered it myself but never actually done it. I can easily imagine how excited you must have been to discover this - great images too :-D

In my fairly new, grass mound and in a few other areas of my lawn I have deliberately chosen not to cut and the longer grass is definitely attracting wildlife including lots of moths which I didn't expect. A few small changes do make a difference :-D

Enjoy watching and photographing this newly discovered dude!

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Liz, Congratulations on your first comma cat! I look forward to following its metamorphosis. P. x

Janet said...

I did plant nettles for a while (much to the amusement of my weed-free friends!) but they kept spreading and spreading. So in the end they had to go. Are we going to have further progress reports on the commas? I' ve never seen them this far north.

Liz said...

Hi Donna,

I often see Caterpillars too, but most of the time I always assume they're moths as most British butterflies feed on either nettles or grasses. This is the first time I've ever been able to say for certain that I have a Butterfly caterpillar :)

Liz said...

Hi Randy,

I've been tempted to keep some in a tank, so then I can see them grow... But I think I'll leave this one and hope it survives.

Liz said...

Hi Liz,

Good luck hunting for insects in your wild areas :D Thankfully this Comma caterpillar stuck out like a sore thumb against the green of the nettles. I would imagine you'll have a lot of caterpillars around - I often find them on Raspberries, but I assume they're moths.

Dissertation is going ok... Not quite panicking yet. Ok, so I have panicked in the past. I'm now about to start my analysis and conclusion and then need to re-write the introduction and finish off the literature review.... Mmmm sounds like I still have lots to do! Going to pop into Uni today to have another look at past dissertations to see how they did it - helps me structure it, as I've always been poor at thinking up essay structures.
I'm around half way through the dissertation now and am wondering where exactly I'll find the rest of the words from! lol.

Liz said...

Hi Shirl,

These nettles actually self seeded from some compost I used... So I left them. I've already cut them back ones and composted them, I was about to cut them again as they're getting large but noticed the little caterpillar. I really could to dig some of them up, but now I'm worried about potentially killing any little 'pillars... grrrr.

I haven't seen my grasshoppers this year, which is a massive disappointment as I was looking forward to taking photos of them again... Hopefully I'll have some next year in the long grass.

Liz said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks; I'll attempt to take photos of it as it grows, but hope nothing eats it!

Liz said...

Hi Janet,

Thanks for the warning on the nettles... These have already been chopped back once this year and as you've found, I think I will need to dig some up as the patch is getting larger - and to be honest they're in an annoying place, which is supposed to be a path through the border. Now I'm a bit confused as to when exactly I can actually cut/dig them up, I need to find out if the caterpillars will overwinter on the nettle... in which case it will cause difficulty for me to dig or chop it.
I will try to update on the 'pillar, but am realistic that something may come along and eat it. We have lots of birds in the garden, and especially in winter they do search through the plants looking for insects.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Liz. Sounds like you've accomplished a lot since we last talked about it - you're on the home straight now and the words will just flow out now!
See you when it's finished :D

Nutty Gnome said...

......I think I forgot to email you to say thank you for the white forget-me-not seeds you sent me (dhur!), so thank you! I'm going to enjoy having white ones next year :)

Liz said...

Hi Liz,

I'm actually somewhat concerned at just how I'm going to manage to talk for 2,500 in the analysis section... I think it's going to be a real struggle, but I do have a back-up plan if I run out of words. So.... I'm hoping I'll be ok.

No problem re: white FMN, I've sown some seeds too and have quite a few seedlings coming up, which I will then plant in the border. I've also got a few blues that self seeded from a pot into smaller pots underneath which I have now moved into borders and hope for a good spring show :)