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HomeNature & ScienceNature & WildlifeCountry diary 1921: the red admiral’s fondness for rotting apples

Country diary 1921: the red admiral’s fondness for rotting apples


In the orchard many red admirals tippled on the fallen and rotting apples, sipping from the bruised wounds excavated by wasp or slug. This fondness for apples is no new discovery; is it, a friend asks, the origin of the specific name – Atalanta? That lady lost her race through apples, and the butterfly sometimes loses its life. Many insects have been unusually plentiful of late; swarming has been the order of the day. Aphids have taken wing, distributing themselves, many finding a watery grave in responsive but unwilling eyes. Pillars or columns of gnats were noticed by some correspondents, dancing in the evening in nuptial frenzy.

Many caddisflies, too, have been observed by a Congleton correspondent, who sends two for identification; they come in at night and buzz round the lights. The larvae of this big fly is the aquatic caddisworm, which shields itself from danger in cases formed of grains of sand, bits of stick, tiny shells, or fragments of weed, glued round a silken tube. These insects – there are many species – belong to the order Trichoptera, hairy wings, often called a sub-order of the Neuroptera, a group which includes such varied forms as termites, dragonflies, mayflies, and even wingless bird-lice. The fly which was sent, and which has constantly annoyed me by its efforts to commit suicide, is one of the largest of our caddisflies, a species of Phryganea.

<iframe class="js-embed__iframe dcr-1d3w5wq" title="Click to view." name="unsafe-embed-3" data-cy="embed-block" srcdoc=" The Guardian, 11 October 1921.

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