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Sunday, 20 April 2014

For future brimstones....

Brimstone butterflies have been evident over the last few days, including one seen by Steve Lucas just E of Dafen, Llanelli on 16/4. At Tyrwaun, Pwll, there was a male flying around some mature alder buckthorns Frangula alnus that I had planted 10+ years ago, and a female was repeatedly feeding at greater periwinkle Vinca major flowers yesterday and ignoring other nectar sources in my garden. My attempts at getting a half-decent photo failed, as she was quite skittish. I don`t think that I`ve seen other butterflies at Vinca flowers, but brimstones have long probosces, thereby allowing them access to the flowers. I suspect that various moths may also utilise Vinca, as well as those species of bumblebee with long probosces.
To aid the local brimstones, every few years I grow alder buckthorns from berries that I gather in autumn. The berries are collected and squashed by hand whilst fresh and spread (including the fleshy bits) over a tray of compost, and covered lightly by a layer of more compost. The tray is put into an ordinary supermarket carrier bag and left outside for the winter cold to have its beneficial effect on germination.
Recently, the seedlings have emerged and, after a few weeks growth (when they `ll be carefully watered and fed), they will be seperated and put into a nursery bed. After a couple of years` further growth, they are given to friends or planted locally (the local BSBI Recorder being told of the successful transplants). Older plantings have matured well and, coupled with limited plantings by the local authority and also at WWT Penclacwydd, they have certainly helped the local brimstone population.
If any Carms Moth Gp members want some, please let me know - alder buckthorn and common buckthorn are the food plants of some good moths too!

                                         Above: Brimstone caterpillar feast of the future!


  1. you obviously have green fingers, Ian...

    100 buckthorn and 100 alder buckthorn were planted by National Botanic Garden in their Woods of the World area in winter 2012/13 (along with over 13,000 other native trees and shrubs)

  2. I planted 200 Buckthorn (saplings) on a new planting of 18,000 trees (around 20 acres). A also gathered berries from established ones I have in a hedgerow I planted several years ago and planted in the autumn - no sign and any emerging yet, but then I kust planted the berries in a plant pot of soil and left outside - I will use your method next time!