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The Wenches

  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

  • Susan Fraser King

  • Anne Gracie

  • Nicola Cornick

  • Andrea Penrose

  • Christina Courtenay

In Memoriam

  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

  • Edith Layton
    Word Wench 2006-2009

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June 2023

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Mary Jo Putney

Nicola--why is it that I was taken aback a the header of traveling so far to see an insect, but as soon as you said "butterfly" it was all right? *G* We are fools for beauty. The houseboat sounds like a lovely way to see the Broads, and the butterflies. (And yes, a special thanks to the bees and other pollinators!

Nicola Cornick

LOL, Mary Jo, I understand just what you mean! We have a college friend who's life work has been to study beetles and I do find that difficult to get my head around but again, if it had been butterflies I would have felt quite different.
The houseboat was a lovely experience, very mellow! And the Broads are a great place for history-lovers as well as nature-lovers. Some beautiful historic houses and gardens!


I'm fine with insects as long as they stay out of my house! ;)
My nephew went through a huge bug collecting phase a few years ago and I considered myself a champion aunt for standing out in the garden with him while he collected grasshoppers. I wouldn't touch them but I could scare them into hopping so he could catch.

Nicola Cornick

Haha! That's a very champion aunt thing to do, Misti! Yes, bugs in the house are not welcome!

Christina Courtenay

I'm the same as you - butterflies and ladybirds are fine, beetles and spiders not so much! And the absolute worst is cockroaches ... but let's not go there. I do envy your stay on a houseboat, it sounds so idyllic! Lovely post!

Mary T

I live in a subarban area in the Midwest and nowadays the butterflies have to come to me - and they do. They like my flowers - as do the hummingbirds and bees. I love to set on my porch and observe them all.

The only butterflies that I could name would be the Monarchs who stop by on their way to Mexico. But there are also a lot of small mostly white, medium size mostly yellow and some beautiful mostly blue ones that show up. Love them all.

Never been on a houseboat - but it sounds wonderful.


Thanks for a lovely post, Nicola! I'll admit that my feelings about insects and arachnids mirror yours. (And let's NOT broaden the conversation to mice!)

A houseboat sounds like a fun way to travel.

We used to travel 175 miles fairly regularly to visit my mother-in-law. By California standards, that distance was not really a big deal!

Anne Gracie

Lovely blog, Nicola. I'm not particularly interested in butterflies, though they are pretty, but oh, I am envious of your houseboat experience. I've always wanted to stay on one, but have never done it. As a child I fantasized about living on one, and also of travelling and living on a canalboat or a narrowboat. As a child I was part fish, and was in the water at every opportunity, so that was an added advantage in my mind.

Robin R

We actually have some inoffensive cockroaches in New England called the Wood Roach that I kind of like. They are small and translucent gold and do not move fast like their invasive Oriental cousins (which I loath) Occasionally one comes in the house but is easy to catch and rehome to the great outdoors.

Robin R

I am entranced by Luna Moths. I've only seen four in my life and feel like each sighting was magical.
Coincidentally, the fourth one I saw was this very week on Wednesday night, when I was travelling through New Jersey and probably was about 175 miles from home!
Here in Maryland, I would say the local species of yellow swallowtail is one of our most common butterflies and the black swallowtail a close second, but we live near a small marsh and pond, so maybe this is just the right environment and I am overestimating their prevalence.
BTW, I would travel almost any distance to spend time on a house boat. Glad you had such a great trip and thank you for sharing your story.

Nicola Cornick

Thanks, Christina, I am glad you liked it. Yes, the houseboat was lovely.
Ugh, cockroaches! There's some sort of instinctive revulsion to them isn't there, though someone must like them I suppose!

Nicola Cornick

Ah, there we are! I'm so happy to hear about a nice cockroach! The Wood roaches sound very pretty. Perhaps it is the scuttling that does put people off!

Nicola Cornick

Mary, I love that butterflies will come to garden flowers so we can all see them up close. Although the British swallowtail is mostly found on the Norfolk Broads it will go into people's gardens in search of nectar, which is lovely. In our garden the Holly Blues are my favourite and I'll never forget seeing the Monarchs when I was in Costa Rica!

Nicola Cornick

Agh, mice! Like the cockroaches, it's that scuttling thing again.
Yes, I suppose in the US 175 miles doesn't seem a great distance!

Nicola Cornick

Part fish! I love that.
I've wanted to live on a houseboat ever since I read MM Kaye's Death in Kashmir. This wasn't quite so exotic (or dangerous) but it is a lovely experience for anyone who likes being on the water.

Nicola Cornick

Oh, the Luna Moth is beautiful! I've just gone to look at some pictures of it. I can see why it would feel magical to see it.
I think some species of swallowtail are quite common, unlike the UK's little population. I always find that sort of thing fascinating, the birds, animals an insects that are rare in one place but common in others.

Teresa Broderick

I would be in the half and half bracket where insects are concerned. Butterflies are quite scarce here now. We've set a few plants that encourage them and hope to see some this Summer in the garden. I say Summer, it's been dismal so far.
Sounds like you had an idyllic few days on the houseboat.

Annette N

I live in a place that has some toxic insects and I am not a fan.
But, once upon a time...I lived in a big house with a very special bathroom. Closets, a big tub with jets, long counter and pretty sinks, a lovely window with a swan design, and a big shower....you could have a game of basketball in that shower.

Every week I had to clean that shower. And every week when I was on my knees scrubbing that shower floor and glass door, a small black spider would stand on the doorknob of the near closet door and watch. I knew he was watching because he had bright green eyes.

We never actually spoke, but we recognized one another with a smile. I smiled, he just stood on his doorknob.

My life has changed. Someone else has been cleaning that shower for many years. I just hope he is the oldest green eyed spider in the history of the world and living happily.
Y'all take care.


I love your spider story, Annette! He probably misses you, too!


Lovely post, Nicola - I lived on a houseboat for one year, many years ago, in Miami, Florida. It was the best sleep I've ever had, every night! Here in New England, we get far fewer butterflies than we used to, despite my husband's gardening specifically to attract them. We're down to mostly Monarchs and Cabbage Whites, both of which are lovely. Last year, we had an unusual visitor to the garden - a hummingbird moth! My husband thought it beautiful, but - and I admit this is weird - it made me very nervous! It looked like a butterfly when still, but rather than gliding about, it mostly stayed in one place and fluttered its wings as quickly as a hummingbird, sipping much like the bird, from various flowers. We'd never seen nor heard of them before, and after a few days, it departed. My husband longs for its return; I'm just fine without it.


Insects and spiders don't bother me, as long as they are outdoors. Some, like praying mantis, are fascinating to observe. If they are in my house, all bets are off. I guess mosquitos are the exception to the rule, I don't like them anywhere. The one insect that scares me are deer ticks, which carry the dreaded Lyme disease.
We have swallowtail butterflies in New Jersey, and they are not quite as fussy as the British swallowtail. The caterpillars will feed on a variety of plants in the carrot family, including parsley, dill, Queen Anne's Lace, and carrot and parsnip tops. I grow much more dill than I can eat in my garden, to attract them. The caterpillars are beautiful, with mint green, black and yellow stripes, and it's fun to watch them fatten up. Likewise, I plant milkweed to attract monarch butterflies. It's exciting to see them form a chrysalis and then emerge as butterflies.

Nicola Cornick

I hope summer brightens up for you, Teresa, and that you get some lovely butterflies on those flowers!

Nicola Cornick

What a fabulous story, Annette! I love the sound of that special spider.

Nicola Cornick

How wonderful that you lived on a houseboat, Constance. It definitely aids sleep, I think!
The hummingbird moths are very rare visitors here and I know what you mean about them being a bit disconcerting. A lot of moths are a bit strange! My husband really likes them too but I do prefer the butterflies.

Nicola Cornick

Hi Karin! That's probably why your swallowtails are more robust than the British ones. Being fussy eaters can't help! And how wonderful to be able to see the monarch butterflies emerge!

Mary E Drake

Thanks Nicola; what a fascinating blog. I'm also envious of your houseboat experience. It remains on my bucket list. I consider myself a great mum as, with three boys, I allowed them to keep varying spiders (at different times) in a fishtank with flyscreen on top. They included wolf spiders (scary looking but not harmful to humans) and redbacks (related to the black widow and definitely harmful) but NO FUNNELWEBS (bites are often fatal). Interestingly my daughter coped with this but when my youngest son graduated to keeping snakes he had to visit her because she wouldn't enter his house! And the I've travelled from Australia to Canada to visit my daughter and would happily travel anywhere on earth if I had to, in order to visit my kids.

Vicki L

We have Eastern Tiger Swallowtail's here in Georgia. probably the same species as Karin has as well. Not only do they eat parsley and fennel they feed on Tulip Poplar, Wild cherry, and poplar trees. Sometimes the caterpillars are called parsley worms.

In fact The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the state butterfly for Georgia. When I would co-lead nature hikes one of the tidbits we'd tell people about the swallowtail was Georgia's state butterfly eats Tennesee's State Tree (tulip poplar). Always a nice SEC football joke.

We get Luna moths occasionally (every couple of years)and they are really cool to look at.

As for insects and butterflies...I wouldn't necessarily drive 175 miles to look at one but if there was a rarity near where I was going I might make a detour.

175 miles seems like a short distance to me...only 3 to 3 1/2 hours drive depending on road conditions. Maybe because I used to drive 100 miles one way to visit friends frequently.

My most hated bug is the Palmetto bug - which is a roach. Because it FLIES! and you never know where it will go. My worst experience with them was when I was staying at my Grama's in Florida She kept saying no, she didn't have an infestation but they would come out at night. and FLY!! The night one walked over me TWICE while I was going to sleep was the last time I went to bed in the dark at her house that visit. I stayed up until the sun came up and left all the lights on in the house until dawn. (I was house sitting).

If you live in the southern part of the US, they can be found outside. And occasionally inside which always acts as a call to arms causing Hubby and I to chase them down and go all Terminator on them. Grin.

Nicola Cornick

I'm with your daughter on the snakes, Mary! I don't think I would relax knowing there was one in the house. It sounds as though you were a great mum and those boys were very lucky!

Nicola Cornick

I love that the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the state butterfly for Georgia, Vicki. That's beautiful.

Flying bugs - yes, I understand why that would be a very horrid experience! We don't get that much here but I hate flying ants.

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