Night-time Garden Safari

An evening wander around the garden looking for wildlife

This evening I decided, for no apparent reason, that I would go into the garden to see what wildlife was out in the dark. I see plenty of wildlife in the day, and we see moths flying around and snails on the walls at night, but I'd never looked closely. It turns out that there is quite a lot going on in my little garden after the sun goes down!

The snail in the top picture was one I've never seen before. It was very small, very shy and very black. It's difficult to tell just how black it is from the photo, as it was necessary to use a flash to light it up. I can't even identify it! It's mentioned in none of my books and I can't find it online. Perhaps one of my readers can help?

The purple sprout plants were being attacked yet again. This time by cabbage moth caterpillars! We're now fairly certain that we won't be having any edible sprouts from the garden this year! As annoying as that is, it's great that these creatures have a home. It also means more business for our local greengrocer!

The Big Butterfly Count remarked that large white butterfly (Pieris brassicae) numbers have fallen an astonishing 38% since the 2016 count. Not in our garden! There must be a hundred of the caterpillars now, and they're very large indeed! Planting the purple sprouts has meant that we've seen these caterpillars for the first time, and they're thriving.

There were also some common garden snails on the sprouts.

This snail was near the begonias at the very back of our garden. It was quite a large one, although you can't tell from this photo.

Hiding under the nasturtium were a couple of slugs. I found a Budapest slug (Tandonia budapestensis) - it's the one with the yellowish 'stripe' along its back (known as a keel). The slug to the left of it is a leopard slug (Limax maximus). Unfortunately, because of the need to use flash, it's difficult to tell from the photo!

This is a worm slug (Boettgerilla pallens):

Here we have a rather fine specimen of large red slug (Arion rufus). Yes, I know it's green/brown! They also come in black!

For me though, this plant pot was the most interesting part of my little safari! It's a dying tomato plant which I'd left outside to rot down to help improve the soil. The drainage holes have become blocked, so it has filled with water. (The small pot within the pot was there for watering the plant - this ensure that the water gets to the roots rather than just flooding the soil on top.)

I could capture a decent photo with my phone (it's all I took outside with me as it was raining a little and I didn't want to risk damaging my SLR!) I did take a couple of short videos. I'm not really sure what any of the life in the water is. It's very difficult to see it at night and I'm new to pond life. We've not got a pond (yet - that's a project for next spring!) However, my guess is that there are some whirlygig beetles and either flatworms or true worms. When I've got more time I'll investigate further and probably in the day when I can see them better! These videos show the creatures in the water:

I don't know why I decided to wander in our garden after dark, but I'm so glad I did! I saw a few things I wouldn't have noticed in the day. It's nice to see that our garden is crawling with wildlife when the sun goes down! I'm even tempted to repeat this in the future, at different times throughout the year...

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