Big thank you from

Worms and garbage can brighten up the garden this summer

by Paul Cormacain

Vital: the worm is our friend

HERE is some news, an addition to the lepidoptera story for 2004. Even into November, there were periodic sightings of butterflies.

In mid November red admirals were sighted, and towards the end of the month some folk had not yet given up for the year, and further red admirals were seen on a few different days.

I myself kept hoping to see butterflies, but my eyesight must not have been as good as the other folk who saw them. I saw none!

Also in November, a large moth was recorded for the first time in Northern Ireland, a moth called the Blair's Shoulder Knot.

This is one of a number of European insects which have colonised Britain during the last century, taking advantage, it is believed, of newly introduced garden trees.

It was first recorded on the Isle of Wight just over half a century ago. It has taken that time to move north and expand and thrive. Recently it got a whiff of air from here, decided this was the place for it and headed across the Irish Sea. Clever creature.

The shoulder knot did not come alone. One was recorded near Tyrella in County Down, and another near Loughgall.

Ian Rippey tells me that the Blair's was first recorded in Ireland in 2002, and that was in County Wicklow.

This sort of northward expansion would appear to be similar to that which has been happening in England.

Ian was also able to tell me that other large moths were recorded here last year, a total of six different species seen for the first time ... and I have not seen a butterfly in months.

Apart from the lesser periwinkles at Nendrum, there are other flowers about early in the New Year.

We have been watching our daffodils for some months, marvelling at them poking their heads up in October. I was hoping to be able to say that they are flowering, but they have not quite reached that stage yet.

Further west, in the fair county of Fermanagh, one spot has been getting more sunshine and less snow and cold.

It is at Liosnaskeagh, and Lena from `Skeagh tells me that her daffodils are blooming. I am thinking of migrating west!

Birds predate worms. If you have a lawn take some time off to watch it, and chances are you will see a blackbird or some such come along on the hunt for worms.

I keep worms and make sure they are safe and well fed - a far cry from using them to fish with when I was younger.

They thrive. I feed them on house hold waste and they produce a most wonderful plant and flower food. They live in conditions which pleases them, and as far as I know they are among the happiest worms in the world.

The system is called a wormery, and perhaps more of us should be thinking about establishing a wormery.

This is all part of the road humankind is taking to make the world a better place to live in.

We produce a huge amount of waste, and at times we throw it out of car windows, throw it on the street we litter our beauty spots.

But we are changing. Some of us now re-cycle glass, paper, tin cans, and with the advent of wormeries we can now re-cycle kitchen waste.

Your bin will be much cleaner, your worms will thrive, and you will produce world class plant food. Your flowers and vegetables will be better than ever before.

So this year think wormery. All you need is household waste to feed the creatures, and a usage for the end product.


Saturday 22nd January:  Animal and human winter survival training, courtesy of Wildlife Trust, at Greenmount Agricultural College, phone 028 4483 0282.

Sunday 23rd January: At Colin Glen Trust, the Birds of Colin Glen, 1000, details from 028 9061 4115

Wednesday 26th January: Irish Garden Plant Society, jointly with RHS and Ulster Museum, hosting New Year Lecture, and more from 028 9038 3152, ask for Catherine.

Thursday 27th January: Oxford Island is hosting a talk, photographic exhibition, and display on traditional boat building and fishing in the Lough Neagh area, contact 028 3834 2205.

Saturday 29th January: Bird Ringing at the Wildlife Trust in Crossgar, with North Down Ringing Group. Want to come along and help ? Phone 028 4483 0282.

Ulster Star