Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Silk Road

The trees are in fresh green leaf and that means that I must start looking for a mulberry, so that I can take up my narrowboat neighbour's kind offer of some silkworm eggs. She has successfully reared a large brood since January, feeding them on a sort of concentrated mush supplied by an online silkworm business. They live in the cosy warmth of her main cabin which is usually heated by a solid fuel stove.

Above, you can see her collection of eggs from the moths she hatched after seeing them safely through the larva stage from eggs which were sent to her shortly after Christmas. A key member of our local Knit & Natter (in which I am the leader - and solitary member - of the men's section), she has ambitions to spin the cocoon silk into something wonderful and strange.

The small number of pale eggs in the picture are infertile ones, so there are plenty available for me to try following in her footsteps. At the moment, in contrast to their parents' cosy upbringing, they are living in her fridge to delay their hatching until people such as myself have suitable breeding arrangements ready.

Meanwhile, the seasons' current combination of garden preparation and moth pupation is turning up less exotic chrysalises, like the two rescued from our veg patch during a digging sesh this week. I also have a few Emperor moth coccons which are yet to hatch and Penny found the caterpillar shown above in a flowerpot. I hope that it too will soon pupate.

Cold weather has kept numbers down in the moth trap but the variety is gradually on the increase. The Pebble Prominent, top left above, is the only new arrival in the last week, accompnaied by returnees such as those shown - clockwise from top right, a Spectacle, a Waved Umber, A muslin and a second Spectacle, this time shown from above.

We have had another, different sort of flying visitor, however: the grand old Flying Scotsman came thundering through on a Bank Holiday excursion. She was two-and-a-half hours late but that suited our timetable for the grandchildren's tea. Mind you, a standard Cross Country service which came through at slow speed in the steam train's wake caused our three-year-old, vehicle-obsessed grandson just as much joy.  I hope the following film is viewable on your computer.

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