One of the things that came out of my research for my Contextual Review was recognition of the idea of working with uncertainty, and this is certainly something that rings true in my work with willow, in particular the living willow. Earlier this week I noticed that a number of specimens in my ‘plantation’ have been attacked by what I later discovered to be sawfly larvae. A few of the plants have been virtually stripped of their leaves. I set about removing the culprits by hand and making a note to remain vigilant. This incident though set me of a path to check all my other willows where I came across a variety of other small creatures, though none creating the same damage. I photographed them and later identified them as a Dark Dagger Moth caterpillar, a Vapourer Moth caterpillar, a ladybird larvae and a number of colonies of the black willow aphid. It was fascinating to see on one willow ants appearing to farm the aphids, whilst on another there was a ladybird feasting on the aphids. It’s fascinating to see these mini-worlds playing out and a reminder of the place the willow takes in the wider eco-system. And, in relation to my work, these incidents can impact on the nature of the growth of the willow: attacks to terminal growth can cause more branching, which will impact on the nature of the form I am able to create at the end of the growth year.
Wildlife Insight– a good site for identifying Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars.