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Today’s good news: when I went out into the dark, cold garden this afternoon in an almost-vain search for bugs, there was a Cinnabar moth on the ragwort plant I still haven’t uprooted. The bad news: I didn’t see it until I’d startled it into flight, and though I went back several times, approaching with far more caution, I didn’t see it again.


I think I can probably claim to be more skilled than the average person at finding insects, so it’s a bit of a mystery that these spectacular moths keep evading my notice – I’m just going to have to try harder. I’m hoping that I didn’t frighten away today’s visitor before she’d had a chance to lay some eggs on the plant – and it almost certainly was a she because Cinnabar females lay their eggs on ragwort, and June is the central month of their flight period and the peak time for them to oviposit. I did take a quick look for eggs, but searching the undersides of all the leaves of a bushy 2m plant would have taken more time than I felt inclined to spend on the task, so the fact that I didn’t find any isn’t really significant. I’ll now leave the ragwort alone, and If I’m lucky I may have caterpillars on it next month – which I will definitely be able to spot by their dramatic prison uniform.

In the absence of a beautiful moth, I clipped a spray from my Iceberg rose (which is currently groaning under the weight of its blooms) and brought it inside to photograph in the warmth of the conservatory. I didn’t have my glasses on at the time, and it was only when I trained the macro lens on it that I realised how shabby the flowers are – so on this occasion I don’t recommend looking full-screen. Perhaps you’d be so kind as to think of them as elegantly dishevelled (rather like myself), rather than raddled and collapsing.