Confined indoors by my germ-ridden state, I've plundered my archives for things I've seen in the garden in previous years during this week of the year.

And here's a little favourite plant of mine that can still be found in flower in September throughout much of the countryside on grassy waysides and banks.

It is the Common Toadflax Linaria vulgaris which looks showy enough to think that it must have escaped from gardens, but it is a full native right up into Scotland.

I've rarely seen any insect clamber into the 'snapdragon' mouth of the flower, so perhaps its best use for wildlife is as the main foodplant for a couple of moth species.

In fact, their name gives away how close their connection is with the flower - they are the Toadflax Brocade, and Toadflax Pug.

I'll start with the Brocade, just because I need to exhaust the ire of northern readers because, yes, this is another southern species that only arrived in the UK relatively recently. But, hey, the climate is changing, the foodplant, so it could be on its way to you soon. I love the word 'brocade' - it relates to the material of the same name, woven cloth than is embossed.

The Pug is much more widespread, right up into Scotland, and is a pretty little thing.

And now is a good time of year if you have Common Toadflax, or commonly grown Purple Toadflax, to get out with your torch and look for their caterpillars. For both species, they should be visible now, the Pug feeding on the developing seedheads. The Brocade has a caterpillar rather like a Large White butterfly's, all black criss-crossed with yellow lines. The Pug's is small and green with zigzag brown markings.

I admit I haven't found either yet. But knowing what you're looking for and when makes success that much more likely!

Oh, and the Eggs and Butter reference in the title? I hope the photo says it all!

Anonymous