The AUGUST Hedge

A month in the life of a Hedge!


In mid August there used to be a harvest festival called after the ancient Celtic god Lugh. The people used to climb hilltops or gather at rivers and lakes and do outdoor sports like Curragh races off the Aran Islands. Bilberries (fraocháin)


Used be picked, symbols of the first harvest fruits. They create small hedges along paths at Glendalough.


The Gatekeeper or Hedge –Brown can be seen. It loves Bramble flowers and is very common in hedges. It really belongs to meadows but likes the tall grasses on the hedge bank. The males are smaller and darker than the females. The eggs, laid singly on the leaves of grasses, hatch in September and the caterpillars hibernate in October. They continue feeding the following spring and the larva pupates hanging from a blade of grass. The caterpillars are a greenish-greyish colour.


Michael Viney describes an August bunch of wild flowers in Mayo – ‘a sturdy twig of fuchsia, lanterns dangling; spikes of rosy purple loosestrife;, a froth of meadowsweet; flaming orange sprays of montbretia.’ – all often found beside the hedgerow. Herb Robert name might come from its colour herba rubra or red plant. Its hairy stems go red in sunlight and when the flowers hang down it means bad weather. It is a good insect repellent because of its bad smell. It is a species of geranium or cranesbill asthefruits looks like the bill of a crane.

The Speckled Wood is also to be seen in shaded hedges. It produces two generations a year, the first emerges in April.

The Brimstone is sulphur-yellow and its food plants are Buckthorn and Alder. It is one of the few butterlies that spends the winter as an adult. It emerges from the pupa at the end of July and flies along the hedges. The male is a darker yellow than the female.

The Tortoiseshel, the Peacock Painted Lady and the Silver-washed Fritillary may be seen on their food plant the Buddleia. Very rarely Commas may be seen . The Peacock Painted Lady hibernates until the next spring in hollow tree trunks. It lays its eggs in spring on the Stinging nettle Urtica dioica. The Silver-washed Fritillary lays its eggs in the crevices of the trunks of trees, especially in oak. In spring the larvae feed only on the leaves of Dog violet, Viola canina.


The ‘briar ball’, ‘Moss-gall’ or ‘Robins pincushion’ can be seen on the Dog-rose (Rosa canina) and Field-rose (Rosa arvensis). They used to be used by apothecaries as remedies for colic and as a diuretic. It is caused by the Gall-wasp or Diplolepsis rosae. The female wasp lays her eggs in the rosebuds in April. The young gall is green but turns red by August and is up to 10 cm in diameter. Inside it has many chambers and each one has white gurp, the larva. They over-winter in the gall, pupate and emerge the next May. The Gall-wasp Periclistus lays its eggs on the ready-made gall, just like the cuckoo uses other ready-made nests for its eggs. Then both of them are attacked by parasitic wasps such as the Chalcid Wasp (Torymus bedeguaris). The female pierces the gall and can get at the larvae. They are also attacked by the Ananichneumon Wasp (Orthopelma) and a chalcid called Oligosthemus which also infects the Periclistus. All these relationships happen in one Robins pincushion! A mite called Eriophytes similis causes uneven green postules along the leaf margins of the blackthorn. The misshapen shoots and distorted leaves or the hawhtorn show damage by the Gall-midge – Dasyneura crataegi. Most galls are found on the oak, for example the Oak-apple and Marble Galls.


The Elephant Hawk-moth can be seen – it is pink and green. Its large caterpillars have markings like big eyes on the head, the body is brown with black lines, with a small spike at the end.

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