Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Peacock in the fridge…

It’s not uncommon to find butterflies in the house at this time of year, like this slightly bedraggled Peacock (Aglais io)……

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The Peacock is one of a few British butterflies that will overwinter as a dormant adult, often choosing sheds or outbuildings to shelter until the warmer weather comes.  They may find their way into houses in autumn, where they will be shaken out of dormancy when the heating is turned on – this is what has happened to this individual.  Unfortunately, this ‘false spring’ will exhaust the butterfly, and it is likely to die once awakened, with no nectar to sustain it and freezing temperatures outside.

The best thing to do with such a butterfly is to put it in a cool, safe place where it can sit out the winter.  We put this peacock in a container in the fridge to allow it to quickly re-enter dormancy; after a while cooling down next to the margarine, it was dormant and ready to be carefully placed in a garden shed.  With luck, this one will survive the winter and be ready to emerge in the warmth of the spring. Continue reading

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Ivy in flower

I recently saw this impressive Ivy plant (Hedera helix) growing on an old tree and wall in Forest Fields :

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There aren’t many wild plants in flower at this time of year, but this Ivy was covered in flowers….

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This profusion of late flowers is a valuable nectar source for insects, especially as the flowering period is quite broad  – as the photo shows, there are flowers in various stages of development. When the flowers develop into berries, they are an important food supply for birds, being ripe in early spring, when other sources of nutrition are scarce.  Ivy also provides excellent cover and habitat for birds, small mammals, bats and invertebrates throughout the year.