On Sunday I went down to the plan d'eau (recreation ground) to get rid of our bottles in the recycling bins (station de recyclage). They were piling up in the pantry, but it was also a good excuse to get down to the river and the ditches that flow into it from the plan d'eau. With the mild weather, things could be happening much earlier than expected.
I particularly wanted to check on the caddis fly larvae that live in the ditches. They trundle about on the bottom in their ramshackle owner-built houses of grit and plant material and are a lot of fun to watch through the crystal clear water. There was also the possibility of toad spawn in long necklaces attached to underwater plants. Normally I would wait until February to check for this, but this year, who knows. Anyway, no toad eggs, but the caddis fly larvae were active.
Be careful if you see the nests in trees or the caterpillars on the ground and if you have them in your garden please dispose of them sensibly (by burning or pouring boiling water over them, taking care not to inhale the hairs, washing your clothes and indulging in a hot shower immediately after doing any nest pruning). For more details and photographs of Pine Processionary caterpillars, please go to our other blog, Loire Valley Nature.