Sunday, November 05, 2017

It's a sad goodbye to the Stig....

Yes indeed: time for another weblog. I recently read a couple of quotes about blogging; here's the first: 'The first thing you learn when you're blogging is that people are one click away from leaving you. So you've got to get to the point, give them some value for their limited attention span.' 

How rude! You don't have a limited attention span do you? Hello...hello.....H-E-L-L-O !

OK...OK, I can take a hint -

The other quote I read was this one: 'I think blogging, by and large, is basically therapy. I think a huge percentage of people who are blogging are doing it for self-therapy.'

Pull up a couch then, I feel the need to confide...

A female moon moth (Actias heterogyna).

I wasn't really expecting this but just 20 days after pupating, one of my moon moths emerged as an adult. How gorgeous are these? Totally! My AES care-sheet had this information: Adults often emerge from the cocoons four-six weeks after pupation. This is a female and a few days later I also had a male...

Apologies, it isn't a great picture of the male is it (these are both just phone shots). I will try to get a better one for a future update. They are living in my studio now, as they cannot be released and do not feed. They actually only live for about a week or so anyway. 

One morning when I checked on them they had left me a little gift...

But are these eggs fertile? I have no idea whether the two of them 'got it on' but according to the information I have they do seem to be the right colour: the infertile ones tend to be a blueish colour. I am caring for them as suggested and will update you should the circle of life start over. 

Speaking of the - 

Last week I had to say goodbye to my friend 'Stig' the stick insect. He was quite an old man in insect terms though; I had cared for him for over a year, which is a good age for his species. I needed to ensure he had a decent and dignified internment and so I constructed a little casket from cardboard, painted it up and placed him inside. He's now in the back garden...

Alright, I know! He was only an insect, and I really don't care if this is thought of as over the top: I like to think that as a captive bug, which he would have been whether I had him or not, I gave him as good and peaceful life as was possible and I shall miss the contact. RIP Stig.

We've talked about new life and the end of a life and so how about something that might be considered half-way between? What am I talking about? Hibernation. The bug count on my walks is falling faster than an MP's reputation now, but I did spot this hibernating parent bug wrapped inside a leaf recently...

Elasmucha grisea - A Parent Bug
Think how short our own lives would feel if we hibernated. They say that we already sleep an average of 25 years over a lifetime. The other thing that always strikes me is that they cannot close their eyes, no eyelids! 

I actually saw a number of parent bugs and most were afflicted by a parasite egg...

This is most likely the work of the tachinid fly, Subclytia rotundiventris which is a specialist endoparasite of females. The fly strategically places the egg at this point so that the bug is unable to reach to remove it. After hatching, the larva feeds on its host. At the beginning the parasite feeds only on the non-vital parts of the bug, but finally it kills it.

Interestingly, the larva ‘permits’ the parent bug to continue caring for the juveniles until their third stage. However, the adults often die before the end of maternal care. Not that the ones I am seeing now will be about to give birth - wrong time of year.

On the same walk, I saw this spider walking on tippy-toe...

I think this has all been pretty cathartic for me and I am sure that your short attention span has been stretched to the max, so I shall apply the brakes at this point and end with another of my Japanese bugs that I found just yesterday in the garden...

Stephanitis takeyai - Andromeda Lacebug (Tingidae)

They sure are strange looking bugs when you look closely...

This information is from the excellent British Bugs website: This species is a fairly recent arrival in the UK and was first recorded in 1998. It is native to Japan, where it feeds on Pieris japponica and has been introduced into the USA and Europe via the plant trade. As well as Pieris, it also uses Rhododendron and azaleas as hostplants and is regarded as a pest in ornamental gardens.


  1. RIP Stig :(
    I continue to be impressed by your amazing finds and thanks for sharing it all with us on your blog :)

  2. Thanks Tim.

    I really appreciate you taking time out to comment here. I know you are busy right now and yet you managed to fit in a visit. Thanks for the compliment too.


  3. An interesting blog as ever.
    Do you have a special heated room for raising Butterflies etc?

    1. Hi JayJay ;-)

      Thanks for another visit and comment. isn't a special room really, it is just my work studio in the garden. It is very well insulated though and heated too. It never falls below the temperature recommended for these moths etc, even overnight. And so they are quite happy as they have lots of room TOO, should they wish to fly about.


    2. Ooops! Apologies for the caps on the word idea what I did there. Well, obviously hit the caps key I guess!

  4. Can't quite believe I've not taken the time to comment since Nov 17?!? Scary!
    I know I've certainly read through some blogs since then...

    Anyway! Sad to read about poor Stig. I loved my Black beauties, and my female lived for 2 1/2 years! The male, like yours, only managed a year. What a gorgeous little box you made for him too! I kept mine on the window sill, and a few months later, I got mice on the house, and found just a few legs left on the window sill! Cheeky beggars! Fortunately, I was able to evict the mice!

    Lovely to see that Parent bug all tucked up like it. Wonder when the Tachinid would hatch?

    1. Thanks for this Maria and what a great story about your Black beauties and the mice, made me smile...


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