Monday, 8 April 2013

Spring Wildflowers

I've been busy, so I've not had a chance to post any photos of the lovely spring wildflowers I've been seeing in the last few weeks. Despite the fact that the Arctic Oscellation Index is still, after more than a month, just about as negative as it has ever been and we have all been all perishing here, many of the spring flowers obviously respond to day length not temperature, and flower regardless.

Snakeshead Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris
These were photographed in the Aigronne Valley between Le Petit Pressigny and Le Grand Pressigny (thanks for the tip off Tim), but we have been lucky enough to see them at three different locations this year.

Purple Toothwort Lathraea clandestina.
Also in the Aigronne Valley, at le Moulin Neuf, between LPP and LGP.

Cowslip Primula veris.
Common on roadsides throughout this area.

Wild Grape Hyacinth Muscari neglectum.
In our orchard, but there's a long way to go before there's a carpet.

Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficaria.
Common along ditches and in damp grassy patches.

Not wild, but still pretty -- the nectarines in the orchard are covered in pink blossom.
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Fleas and Scuties:  Yesterday our neighbour Pierre-Yves came over with an arthropod in a jar that he wanted identifed. The beast, which was dead, was a scutie (House Centipede). He'd found it in a pot plant and was worried it had been eating his plants. Typical of Pierre-Yves, who is an artist, he was also intrigued by how beautiful the creature was, remarking on its stripey legs and patterned back. I reassured him that they were carnivorous. He explained that it must have died because he has been battling against a plague of fleas in the house. Until recently he has been living over his garage in a studio apartment and the house has been tenanted. The tenants had half a dozen cats, and the cats clearly had fleas. Pierre-Yves can't believe how many eggs a single flea can lay and how many places they can get! He's sprayed anything he's seen with a flea on it or signs of fleas, including the insides of his jeans! The scutie must have come into contact with something that has been sprayed, which is a pity, as they probably eat fleas and flea eggs. He's getting a bit wary of continuing to use chemical sprays, so has just spent the last two not very warm days with the heating off in the house in the hopes they will either push off somewhere warmer or die of cold. He's not very hopeful, but I told him to wrap small objects in plastic bags and freeze them for a few days (ideally up to a week), like museum pest control programmes do, and he was quite taken with that idea. He also has a battery of herbal oils that he hopes fleas find insupportable. Then we got a bit silly, and I suggested he borrow a cat back for a day, put it in a cage and wait until all the fleas had got on board. My idea was to then whip the cage outside, with its cargo of cat and fleas. Pierre-Yves was still quite keen to try out the freezer idea though...

6 comments:

  1. Can't stop laughing [CSL?] at your suggestion how to get rid of fleas!

    The wild flowers photos are beautiful. Never seen a fritillary in person.

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  2. The use if a cat as a flea trap actually works - I had a plague of fleas when I lived in York and the cat and I had been on holiday for a fortnight. Ugh - horrible memory! Pauline

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  3. I like the toothwort one... had seen this flower in amongst some others, but didn't know what it was.

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  4. Lovely to see the harbingers of spring in France again..., though we had primroses instead of cowslips.
    I'm just getting used to the seasonal cycle here: so much for people telling me i would miss the seasons being in the tropics.

    I'm still laughing about the cat as flea trap, imagining the sprint to the door with fleas clinging on for dear life...

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  5. Les fleurs printanières sont toujours superbes.
    Votre fritillaire pintade sauvage est magnifique, bien plus colorée que celle que nous trouvons dans l'arrière pays.
    Avec la remontée des températures les floraisons vont être magnifiques!!

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  6. Fly:we have primroses too, but I just didn't have a photo of them.

    Lucie: I wonder why yours were so much paler? Ours are the colour I would expect. High hopes for the weekend weather, eh?

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