I is for Insects, and Holly and Ivy


I is for insects, mostly  welcome, some not so! I have a couple of bee and insect boxes round the garden, also some homemade boxes with lots of nooks and crannies for the beneficial insects such as ladybirds and lacewings (not quite as big as this one I spotted in a local garden!)


I’m was delighted to see so many hoverflies this year, mostly on the fennel and the odd soldier beetle too (these photographed over Seaford head where I spotted dozens!)



I’ve also been delighted to see so many evening flying moths in the garden this year – almost certainly encouraged by the fragrant nicotiana that wafted its perfumed trumpet heads so beautifully in the evening air. Photographing them however is a real challenge!

So who were the baddies? The white-fly inside, and in the mini greenhouse, black-fly outside on the cosmos, valerian and nasturtiums, and lily beetles on the lilies. I never did work out what was voraciously eating my marguerite flowers either, possibly slugs or possibly earwigs, though I didn’t trap more than the odd one with an upturned pot.

Now it’s Autumn there are also a few craneflies deciding that they would rather be inside the house, and making a break for it as soon as we open a door or window. These harmless flies are not exactly the terrifying plague that the trashy press were making out. (It really must have been a slow news day). As the Sussex Wildlife Trust pointed out, there are not 200 billion of these bursting their way out in an Old Testament like plague, they are not the world’s most venomous creatures, lacking only a mouth to let loose that poison and they are not recent foreign invaders, but have been here since the Ice age, and are surely eligible for British citizenship by now. And they only live a few days, so irritating though they may be, we really should give those daddy long legs, a break.

“Nevertheless headlines urged us to ‘brace yourselves’ as the ‘plague’ of insects was heading our way. Things started to get personal in The Express who yelled that “for every man, woman and child in the UK there will be 3,000 Daddy Longlegs on the rampage”. We reached peak panic when The Star screamed “Apocalyptic invasion of 200 BILLION bugs FOUR INCHES LONG coming to UK homes.” By now the people of Britain were no doubt stocking up on tinned food, barricading their doors and preparing to defend themselves with a rolled up copy of the nearest tabloid.

So far this year I’ve seen seven craneflies.”

So plants beginning with I – not too many in my garden.  Italian Lords and ladies (Arum Italicum), brighten up the beds in the Winter, with interesting foliage and bright red berries.


A lovely resilient non prickly holly – Ilex (Altaclerensis variegated) also brightens up the bed with Winter berries. (picture below bottom right)


Oh yes and last but not least the dreaded Ivy. I think I have ground ivy coming up in almost every direction, and it’s a real battle to keep pulling it up. I do try and avoid weedkillers, but I may have to give in and give it a dose. A classic definition of a weed – a plant in the wrong place! In the woods and wild places it is a wonderful thing, giving nectar to those hoverflies but in my garden it strangles my hedges and perennials and sends those dreaded tendrils out in every direction.

The holly and the ivy

When they are both full grown

Of all the trees that are in the wood

The holly bears the crown


      Traditional Christmas carol, Holly and the Ivy



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