#30DaysWild No. 6: Getting the munchies

The caterpillars are back on the alder buckthorn saplings. This sapling is outside Beech Eco Lodge and is getting well and truly nibbled.

They will be caterpillars of Brimstone butterflies – the lovely lemony yellow ones. Well, the males are yellow, the females slightly paler, but not like the cabbage whites.

Here’s a female laying an egg on an unfurling bud, taken back in April.

A brimstone butterfly is laying an egg on an unfurling bud

They are quite big butterflies, and their caterpillars have really quite specific tastes. So over the past few years we’ve been adding alder buckthorn saplings, hoping to drive up our butterfly numbers. It seems to be working – there have been plenty of adults flying this spring, right from the early sunny days.

Last year we found a similarly munched sapling right outside Nuthatch Lodge at the end of June. Just one or two caterpillars stripped it bare, then turned into chrysalids. They didn’t get spotted by hungry birds, and thankfully the young tree then put out a new flush of leaves. And in July we were able to show the emerging butterfly to a couple of our summer guests – so despite the apparent destruction, there was a wildlife treat in store.

We added several more saplings this winter, but they haven’t all taken, perhaps because of the ultra dry spring we’ve had. But this one seems ok, and we hope it will survive the current onslaught of tiny jaws.

Previously on #30DaysWild

This time last year: Guests had spotted a water shrew at the wildlife pond below Balebarn Lodge. Quite a find. We’ll have to go back and sit quietly and hope to see another….

This time in 2018: Not shews, but guest wild swimming in the pond. We miss you all this year! Hopefully you’ll be back for the high summer. We’re ready to welcome back swimmers!

This time in 2017: Like today, it was a bit windy, but this robin had ventured out of its nest for a maiden flight.