Friday, July 11, 2014

Who ate all the red campion seeds?

Ever since I first introduced red campions into our garden, about twenty years ago, we've had these caterpillars of the campion moth Hadena rivularis feeding on them. 

This is one of this year's brood. They tend to feed on the plant's calyx first, then chew their way into the seed capsule and eat the seeds.



The pictures below are from a brood from an earlier year.




































Here you can see it chewing away at the calyx to expose the tip of the seed capsule ..


.... then it eats its way into the seeds.


The caterpillars often tend to spend the day inside empty seed capsules and ....




































............if you give the capsule a gentle squeeze it will often emerge.


9 comments:

  1. And human babies have to be taught and reminded, over and over...

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    1. Sometimes caterpillars seem like eating machines (especially on my garden plants!)

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  2. Great photos, this Caterpilla is the same colour as the seed pod it feeds on,and just shows you how important one plant is to the survival of a individual Species.
    We have a little patch of campion at the park, will have to take a closer look.
    Amanda xx

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    1. Red campion makes a very attractice garden plant - especially when you pair it with meadow cranesbill. It seeds itself too - the caterpillars don't get all the seeds

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  3. A really interesting post with some great photos :) I'm off to check the Red Campion seedhead capsules in our garden :)

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    1. I think they are most active at dusk

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  4. Like you I've been photographing these caterpillars that live in my garden's red campion capsules, concerned that my red campion population doesn't suffer. So far so good. They are rather ugly, as compared with the attractive seeds. Are the adult moths ugly too?

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    1. They've been eating red campion seeds in my garden for years Henry, and there are still plenty of self-seeded plants every year. The adult moth does have rather beautiful markings, see http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?id=171

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  5. I have just discovered these caterpillars hiding in these seed pods in my garden and was looking online to see what they would turn into .... thank you - and great pics.

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