3rd September 2014

Devil’s Bit Scabious was really showing it’s great wildlife value today at the nearby nature reserve, Potteric Carr! A small patch of this plant, which provides many Moth, Bees, Hoverflies and Butterflies with late season pollen and nectar, was swarming with feeding insects. The word ‘Scabious’ derives from Scabies, one of the many illnesses this plant was thought to cure. The ‘Devil’s Bit’ part comes from the belief that its short root was bitten off by the Devil, furious that the plant cured so many illnesses! Like a pin-cushion on long stalks, each head consists of many tightly packed, four-lobed flowers. Male and female flowers occur on different stalks, the female heads being smaller. They are also the food plant of the now scarce Marsh Fritillary, a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Devils’ Bit, which prefers marshy or damp conditions will grow on drier grasslands, mountain slopes and woodland edges. Seeing them today attracting so many insects, including Red Admirals, Commas and even the species I’ve tried all summer to get a close-up of- the Brimstone Butterfly, means we’ll definitely be getting some seeds to growl in the damper, cooler parts of the garden. Conditions: Mist gave way to cloud and then sunny periods on a very still, beautiful late summer day. Temperature: Max 20- Min 14C.

The stunning male Brimstone Butterfly feeding on Devil's Bit Scabious.

The stunning male Brimstone Butterfly feeding on Devil’s Bit Scabious.

The multiple, four-lobed flowers making up a Devil's Bit Scabious flowerhead. Male- with a Hoverfly feeding.

The multiple, four-lobed flowers making up a Devil’s Bit Scabious flowerhead. Male- with a Hoverfly feeding.

Red Admiral feeding on Devil's Bit Scabious.

Red Admiral feeding on Devil’s Bit Scabious- you can see its long proboscis probing one of the flowers for nectar.

The burnished colours of a Comma Butterfly, feeding on a female flower-head of the Devil's Bit Scabious

The burnished colours of a Comma Butterfly, feeding on a female flower-head of the Devil’s Bit Scabious

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