Saturday, 28 March 2015

High Living Touch Me Not Balsam.

St. Catherine's has become a stronghold for the nationally scarce touch me not balsam plants which are the only food source for the rare netted carpet moth caterpillars.

As they are annuals and sensitive ones at that, the numbers of touch me not plants may vary greatly from year to year depending on the prevailing conditions; this correspondingly affects the annual moth populations.

Netted Carpet Moth on Balsam leaf.
At St. Catherine's a great deal of work has been done over the years in an attempt to maintain or increase the numbers of plants each year; the aim is to ensure there are plenty of plants, on which the moths lay their eggs, and plenty of plants for the caterpillars to feed on.

An image of a Touch Me Not seedling (March 20th) about the size of a little finger nail...

..but what is unusual is that this seedling was spotted growing at a height of six feet on the west side of the wall at St. Catherine's.

 Up to now 30 seedlings have been seen on the wall ...

... amongst the moss and the ferns.

An image of the fully grown plant in late July showing caterpillar, flower and seed pod; when it is ready, the plant material inside the pod suddenly forms into a twisted coil and this propels the seeds far and wide.

However it was still a surprise to find seedlings on the wall...especially so high up; to my knowledge they have never taken root on this wall before.

More posts on The Netted Carpet Moth, and the Touch Me Not Balsam plant may be found on this Blog.

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