Though I set off on yesterday’s walk clad in a rain jacket, the first day of July brightened up and turned into a day full of butterflies, with sightings of my first Gatekeepers of the year, a couple of second-brood Holly blues and more than 20 second-brood Small whites, as well as seven other species. But the highlight for me was watching two Commas egg-laying on nettles, and then taking a look at their tiny eggs, which I’d not seen previously.
The butterflies were fluttering around, checking out nettle plants growing alongside the footpath I was walking and, when they found a plant to their liking, they would alight briefly on a leaf, lay a single egg, then flutter off again.
At less than 1mm tall, these eggs are tiny, and I would never have spotted them unless I’d seen them being laid. They’re pale green in colour, with 10 or 11 white ribs running vertically up the sides.
Comma egg one
Comma egg two
According to Peter Eeles’s Life Cycles of British & Irish Butterflies, each female Comma will lay about 250 eggs, usually on the upper side of a leaf, in a sheltered, sunny position. The eggs will gradually change colour to yellow and, in two or three weeks, to grey, before the little caterpillars hatch. Eggs-citing!
Comma showing the distinctive marking that gave it its name