Beautiful night-fliers in Ruth's garden plus your chance to be an award-winning nature spotter

I know I keep banging on about the importance of making room in our gardens for wildlife at a time when many creatures are losing their habitat at a frightening rate, but sometimes it really does pay off.

A couple of days ago I was working my way through the weekly batch of AG pages when my husband called me to ‘come and look at this’. The last time he did that was when he found a blood-filled tick on the kitchen table (it had fallen off one of the cats, and we did disinfect the table afterwards) so it was with some trepidation that I followed him into the front garden.

We found ‘our’ newly-emerged privet hawk moths warming up on the shaded aide of the birdtables stand

But boy, it was worth it, because resting on the upright supporting the birdtable were two newly emerged privet hawk moths.

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They were almost 2in (5cm) long apiece, with almost wood-like markings that hid the delicate pink-striped body and underwings. Their heads looked velvety and their legs were pleasingly sturdy to support such large beasts.

Privet hawk moths are the UK’s largest native variety of the species and usually fly between June and July, feeding on the nectar of scented nighttime flowers.

Privet hawk moth caterpillars are brightly coloured and feed on several varieties of shrub without doing lots of damage Image: Alamy

They are the largest UK hawk moth with a wingspan of 9-12cm.

Their larvae are large and bright green with diagonal white and purple strips down their flanks and a curved ‘horn’ on their rear end. The caterpillars, which can be found from July to September, feast on privet, honeysuckle, holly, ash and several other plants before pupating underground for the winter and emerging the following summer.

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I’ve never seen privet hawk moths in the garden before so this felt like a real privilege, much in in the same vein as watching hedgehogs trundling around the beds or catching the sparrohawk taking a bird off the feeders (not so cool for the bird, admittedly).

You can help supplement a hedgehog’s diet with suitable food but in dry spells fresh water is most important

Making room for wildlife isn’t difficult – growing pollinator-friendly plants (they have a bee symbol on the label or packet), providing food and water for birds and mammals such as hedgehogs and leaving an untidy area where creatures can hide, feed and breed will all help to encourage the natural world in.

Wildlife in the garden adds a whole new layer of interest and excitement to gardening.

It’s a busy, hungry time of year for birds so keep feeders full and birdbaths full of clean water

More importantly, you can record species you have found and even take part in the annual Awards for Wildlife Recordings organized by the National Biodiversity Network Trust, the UK’s largest partnership for nature.

The aim of the awards is to celebrate wildlife recorders across the country who have logged species on land and in the sea and helped create a bio-map of resident species.

Encourage bees, butterflies and other insects by planting pollen-rich plants such as this Stachys byzantine, or lamb’s ear

You can nominate someone you know, a group of keen wildlife recorders or even yourself for the five categories that include terrestrial recording (age 21-plis), marine recording (age 21-plus), group recordings, young person’s recorder (age 11-20) and newcomer award (age 21-plus).

To nominate, visit bit.ly/NBNawards20 and complete the appropriate nomination form either online, or email the edited MS Word document back to support@nbn.org.uk  Sunday, July 26 2020.

  • BLOB you can see what wildlife has ben recorded year you by logging onto bit.ly/NBNatlas and typing in your address. The atlas is a free resource giving everyone access to wildlife, plants and habitats in their area. Have fun!

 

We are here for you

Although lockdown is easing, many people are still confined to their homes or concerned about going out because they are vulnerable to catching C19.

Here at AG we appreciate that and are doing our best to keep connected with our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

The team at AG have been here for you throughout lockdown and will continue to be

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’ John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer within 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades. Contact him using the AG email address at: amateurgardening@futurenet.com

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We already have thriving Facebook page but are also on Twitter and Instagram. These sites are a brilliant way of chatting to people, sharing news, information, pictures and just saying hello – we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Best of all, as gardeners are generally lovely folk, more interested in plants, hedgehogs, tea and cake than political shenanigans and point-scoring, so the chat is friendly and welcoming.

You can find us at:

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So please drop by, follow us, ‘like’ our posts and say hello – we will reply as soon as we can. Happy gardening!