Halloween activities have been going on all week at the Park. Unfortunately these  have been fully booked for some while. The theme this year is Grimm’s Fairytales and each session starts with magical arts and crafts followed by a trailer ride up into the dark forest.

The visitors are then left to find their way back to the centre along a spooky toadstool trail which ends in the theatre where a story-teller is waiting. By the weekend some 350 children and their grown ups will have taken part.

For those unlucky enough to have missed this weeks activities there is plenty of wildlife horror to be found outside. The image shows the caterpillars of one of the most common butterflies, the Large White. These are coming to the end of their season and should be finding somewhere to pupate and overwinter.

 

Although the caterpillars are poisonous to most predators they are susceptible to one particular ichneumon fly (Apanteles glomeratus). This fly will deposit its eggs inside the young butterfly larvae where they will hatch and feed on the hosts insides. Cleverly they avoid the vital organs so that the host can remain alive to feed them as they grow.

 

When the caterpillar is fully grown the fly larvae breaks through the skin to pupate within yellow cocoons on or near the host. In both images there is one fly larvae that can actually be seen doing this. The poor unfortunate caterpillars are still very much alive at this stage and will eventually die having helped rear another brood of ichneumon flies.

This scenario is as scary as any horror film..proving that fact is always stranger than fiction.

Bookings are currently being taken for a much more pleasant event, the Santa activities which will take place over 8 days before Christmas. More information on the web-site at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

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