Saturday, 16 August 2014

Elephant Hawk Moth (Deilephila Elpenor) Caterpillar Sunbathing On Our Smallholding Patio.

Spotted this creature sunbathing on our patio the other day.  It looks like a cross between one of those old moquette couches ('settee') from the 1970's and a cartoon character.  It's also got a sting in it's tail or should I say spike.  Apparently they like Fuchsia and Willow Herb.  Ireland is full of Fuchsia hedges.  Some say they arrived in the last Ice Age.  Others say the Spanish Consquistadors brought them back along with the potatoes and the Montbretia  (South Africa) that seems to plague seaside gardens here in West Cork.  We don't see much Rosebay Willow Herb here in Ireland.  I remember it everywhere when I lived in England.

Any road.  I didn't kill the caterpillar and it's free to help me trim the hedges.  I have cut my Griselinia hedge 5 times this year. You know the definition of an hedge:

"Man's statement of arrogance against nature."

I once knew somebody who use to leave food out every night for a brown rat.  He reckoned it was the same rat that visited every night.   I often get A Robin perching on my garden spade or fork looking for worms, watching me like some old farmer who is thinking:

"He's not doing that right."

I'd like to think it's my late dad or one of my ancestor's watching over us.  I hope there is a God with all this worry of war in Iraq, Gaza and the Ukraine.

Do you have any unusual creatures visiting your smallholding or vegetable plot?

It's been a great Summer here in Ireland.



  1. I was told by an ecologist that the Fuchsia & Rhododendron were introduced into Ireland in the 1700's by our former overlords.

  2. You could be right Heron about the Fuchsia and Rhododenron being introduced in 1700's. I find that most plants and vegetables originate thousands of miles away. I read somewhere that the Ice Age probably brought the Fuchsia and the Montbretia.

    Ireland is situated on the Gulf Stream so it's quite possible that plants could have been washed up on Irish shores from abroad. Not forgetting the Norman and Viking occupations and influence on Ireland and it's historical connections with Europe. Thanks!

  3. I have to say it looks like a draught excluder my nan made.
    I get the impression these days that so much flora and fauna has been transplanted by mankind over thousands of years its difficult to keep track of what was originally native.

  4. Hi John. I think I know the draught excluders you describe. Weren't they made of old tights and stuffed with newspaper? Back in the days when we use to watch Blue Peter and Valerie Singleton would show you how to make something ("here's one I made earlier") really useful with some "Sticky back plastic."

    I agree with you that most flora and fauna has been transplanted from overseas. Even the animal kingdom itself. The Atlantic salmon, eels swim to to the Sargasso sea to breed (isn't in the Caribbean) and we get swallows visiting our cowshed every year, all the way from South Africa, because they need to eat insects. Thanks!

  5. I found one of those caterpillars the other day and wondered what it was- now I know , thanks! As for feeding things I think the blackbirds are frequent visitors.

  6. Hi Kev. They are incredible aren't they? I believe the brown blackbird is the female and the black one is the male. Birds can be a nuisance (pigeons) and a great help keeping the snails and the grubs at bay. Thanks!

  7. Never seen one of those, how big is it?
    Head reminds me a bit of a sloth.

    Not creatures, apart from a squirrel, rabbits and a frog (or toad, it was night when I saw it, just let it hop along un-disturbed), hedgehogs and lots of birds, but did find 2 mushrooms on the back grass, about 4" and 3" across, gave them to next door to put in a mince dish, and was rewarded with a handful of tomatoes straight from the greenhouse, they taste far better than the superstore things.

  8. It's about four inches long. Got a big spike on it's tail. Watched Gardeners World on Friday night and they showed one of them. It buries itself into the soil and comes out of it's casing in the Spring in the form of a moth. Yes you can't beat vegetables picked that day.


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