It's unusual for me to walk the meadow late afternoon but I wanted to see if there were any caterpillars on the Ragwort, Senecio jacobaea
I'm interested in how the landowner allows this field to develop. Ragwort was growing on one edge last year and full of Cinnabar moth caterpillars, I wanted to see if this was still the case.
Ragwort has a terrible press agent. The plant contains toxins that are poisonous to horses and there has been a lot of scaremongering about this beautiful native plant. Suffice to say, what evidence of poisoning exists relates to cases of horses fed on hay (dried grasses) where Ragwort is also present. Horses are sensible enough to avoid the plant but appear not to be able to detect it once dried.
Ragwort is the key food source for the Cinnabar moth caterpillar (Tyria jacobaeae) and supports at least 29 other species bee, beetle, other insects and fungi. So it's an important plant. You can read some more information here.
I was delighted to find the Ragwort is gently spreading across the field and there were a few caterpillars on the ones I could reach easily without disturbing the meadow.
Definitely one for the Beetle sketchbook.
And I leave you with this - difficult to see in the photo but there appeared to be a caterpillar inside ...
If I had known then what I know now
I would have started this diary years ago
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