IT IS now September and it grows dark by 8pm. We have been blessed with a long hot summer and the plants and insects in our garden have taken full advantage of it.
We still have new brood of sparrows chirping noisily and demanding to be fed.
Our martin family have fledged and are flying with their parents in the late evening sun and returning to their nest as darkness falls.
Occasionally we have seen bats flying near the house when it is almost dark and the sun is below the horizon.
Butterflies have not been abundant this year so I hope that our good summer will help to restore their fortunes.
We saw a Brimstone early on in spring and recently I have seen them again from a second brood.
Of the Pieridae family, Large White, Small White, Green veined white and Orange tip have been with us throughout the summer. But I do not recall seeing any skippers this year (Hesperidae).
However the coming of autumn has brought a flush of the brown family of butterflies into our garden again (the Nymphalidae), so we have Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, and a single Painted Lady, (a summer migrant from north Africa).
Just occasionally we have also seen a Comma butterfly. The Satyridae have been represented by a few Speckled Wood Butterflies, the Wall butterfly, Meadow Brown and the Gate Keeper.
Of the Lycaenidae family we saw a Small Blue in early July and possibly a Common Blue also in early July.
Sadly, I have yet to see a Small Copper, though it is perhaps a little early in the year and hopefully we will see some in the next week or two.
Many of our common butterflies use nettles as a larval food plant, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Comma, and Painted Lady, all of them in the Nymphalidae family.
The white family use cruciferous plants, especially cabbages, but they also use nasturtiums.
However, nasturtiums have not germinated well this year and my plants are not covered in caterpillars so it would seem that even the Large and Small Whites sometimes need help!
Orange tips use wild plants for their larvae particularly Ladies Smock (Cardamine pratensis) and Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale). Small Coppers like sheep’s sorrel and docks (Rumex).
There is certainly plenty of their favourite food plants around so I continue to hope they will put in an appearance.
Butterflies like flowers with easily available nectar so wild flowers and cottage garden plants are much appreciated, while cultivated plants with many petals are ignored.
This is because the extra petals have replaced some of the more important reproductive parts of the plant during the breeding process.
Beauty in exchange for sterility may enhance our gardens but does nothing for wild life.
With the coming of autumn we have begun to see Toadstools in our lawns and bracket fungus on tree trunks.
So the pleasures of summer are replaced by the season of autumn.
Swallows, Swifts and Martins will soon be gathering on telephone wires before making the long journey south and our first fire has been laid and is waiting to be lit.
Ashbourne Field Club meets on the first Monday every month from October to April at 7.30pm in St John’s church hall.