Night-time Garden Safari: October 2017

A night-time exploration of our garden

Warning - this post is not suitable for arachnophobes! Which makes me wonder how I managed to type it...

Last night I unlocked the door, as I was planning on emptying the bins into the wheelie bins outside. It was almost an hour later when I actually got around to doing that! I'd been distracted by the nightlife creeping around our back garden.

I had to use a head torch to light some of the creepy crawlies. Although last time my flash was sufficient, for some reason it just wasn't enough to allow my camera to focus this time. I quite like the end effect though on most of the photos!

When I came back inside, I realised that it's been a month since I did this for the first time! I think I'll make this a regular thing! Perhaps go into the garden at night on roughly the same day each month and see how the ecosystem changes. Of course, that will mean some late nights in summer!

The first picture is of a Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae) caterpillar. We have had purple sprout plants in our garden this year, so we've seen a lot of these. Unfortunately, these, along with the large white butterfly larvae, have totally decimated the sprout plants! There were a couple more, at the other end of the garden:

A tiny baby one!

The one above was happily wandering along until I shone my torch on it! They curl up into a ball like this as a defence mechanism. Quite how effective this actually is, is anybody's guess. Given that some of its predators are significantly bigger than it, I imagine it isn't an effective defence!

There was also a small white butterfly caterpillar going for a wander. It wasn't in any particular hurry though, and stayed in this position mostly just looking around!

There were, as usual, lots of slugs slithering around.

There were also some snails.

I love how the last one is hanging on to the wall at a funny angle, with its shell pulling it down. Quite an achievement for the slimy little thing!

There were lots of woodlice everywhere. There were on the shed, the seats, the walls and the ground! I only took a couple of photos though - anymore would just be too many!

I had a quick look in the 'container pond' to see what was happening. (The 'container pond' is a pot which used to have a tomato plant in. When the plant was dying I put it outside to bio-degrade, it filled with water, and subsequently some simple life.) This time there were the tiny worms, along with some structures. I'm not sure what these structures are, and googling 'chimney like structures in a pond' (and other such phrases) doesn't help any - the top result is about nuclear reactor engineering! Other results suggest that it's the works of crayfish! (It most definitely is not!) If someone knows what causes these, please let me know!

There were lots, and I mean lots, of those horrid little things that I fear deeply - for no good reason. SPIDERS! AAARGH!!! I don't know why, but spiders really freak me out. They really make my skin crawl. However, I'm a grown man and fearless (when I have a carefully planned escape route!) so I thought I'd take a few photos. Firstly, here are some egg sacs. These little furry yellow things are all over the outside of the shed and the house. I'm utterly dreading the day these all hatch because I know that, at some stage, they'll probably come indoors looking for warmth... EEEK!

However, despite my terror, I don't believe one can be a naturalist and set out to destroy such things. I also know that none of the varieties in our garden are in any way hazardous to my health. If they were, I'd move. Quickly. So, I took my photos and let them be. I've not identified any of them, because I simply can't cope with it. I've had a hard enough time sorting them and putting them onto my blog, without flicking through my wildlife books to name them all, so you'll just have to make do.

This one is in the centre, just in front of the former sprout plant leaf.

You get two for one in this photo! One just below the end of the handrail, and one in the centre of the web, just where the hole in the leaf is. You also get a bonus small white butterfly caterpillar!

I think this is actually a harvestman (Phalangium opilio), not a spider. I didn't hang around to check!

Another harvestman.

The two above were creeping over our shed. They moved a little too fast for my liking!

The last one scared me the most! It was fast. Really fast. When I got close it ran towards me, stopped to pose for the photo, then skulked away, turning around regularly. You can't see it here, but there's a slight gap between the windowsill and the window. It crawled into there and hid. Just lying in wait. I had a very quick look and all I could see was one leg dangling. It was like it knew!

Even just typing that paragraph has made my skin crawl...

To end my post, and to relieve my arachnophobia, I have a couple of much nicer shots for you! I took a photo of the helenium (aka sneezeweed!) which is currently coming to the end of flowering:

I also took a night-time shot of #projectHome:

I really do love this section of our garden! I always feel a little more peaceful when I look at it. Not quite the complete peace I feel when I'm walking over The Roaches, but a little bit of it. I'm becoming rather impatient though - I want the heather to grow quickly so it covers the bare soil, and I want the grass on top of the rocks to grow to screen the back off.

I've really enjoyed my little night-time foray! I'm looking forward to seeing what our garden has in store for me over the next few months! In fact, I'm so looking forward to it that I've added it to my wall planner!

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