I have had to make a lot of decisions about the wildlife plot since September. Coppice all the hazels or just a few? I coppiced them all.  Leave the Allium triquetrium to spread or remove it? REMOVE IT! Prune the cooking apple tree all over or just half and do it over two years? I pruned it all over. So, I am used to making decisions and probably what made these easier is that what ever I decided, it wouldn't have much of an impact on anyone else apart from the Alliums.

Today, I had to make one of those more difficult decisions about some wildlife rather than plants.

There is a small hedge of lavender on the wildlife plot beside the path as you come round from Gorfin Hall that is almost on its last legs. It is a great place for it because you almost always have to brush past it and of course you get that lovely lavender fragrance when you do.

Two days ago, I noticed some beautiful bugs on it. They were irridescent copper, about the size of a ladybird and the plants were covered in them.  I didn't have my phone with me at that point to take a photo but later that evening decided to look them up and see what they were. 

Shock, horror! They are rosemary beetles and they will destroy rosemary, lavender, sage and thyme by eating the flowers and young leaves. They are not native to this country and first appeared in 1994 probably imported on some southern European plants and have spread throughout the country.  You can report your sightings to the Royal Horticultural Society (which I have done) so that they can track them.

The adults are first seen in midsummer feeding on your plants and where there is one there will be many as they feed in a group. By late summer they mate and lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves (quite hard on Rosemary!).These then hatch and the larvae feed and eventually drop down onto the ground to pupate. 

The decision. On a wildlife plot, do you kill wildlife? You can answer this either way depending on your point of view so I also ask the question - Would other allotmenteers be happy if I left these bugs/plants/weeds and they got onto their plots? No they would not. Is there anything that would eat these beetles. No there is not. So, reader. I squashed the lot! All 48 of them. I then looked on my veg plots and found 21 more on my hedge of lavender and a plot near me had them all over their rosemary so I suspect they are all over the plots already.

Check your lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme regularly and deal with them in your own way. Apparently, handpicking and squashing or putting them in a bucket of soapy water is the best way of dealing with them and you need to do it regularly.

And now onto something a little more positive.

The butterflies are appearing now on the plot; large whites have been around for  a while but today I watched a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) - both great names - on the Geranium which I think might be 'Patricia'. It spent a long time on the plant, moving from flower to flower. What I didn't realise is that these butterflies are  a long-distance migrant, moving north from North Africa, the Middle East and central Asia to Europe and Britain. I have seen the butterfly bushes full of them later on in the year but only this one today.

What have you seen recently on your plots or in your garden?