This gorgeous Comma was showing particularly well the reason for its name.
18 Tuesday Apr 2023
This gorgeous Comma was showing particularly well the reason for its name.
21 Tuesday Mar 2023
Sorry if my title offends some of you but it can be difficult to put into words how much I adore these stunning creatures.
When first the Peacock and then this Comma, within a few minutes of each other, flew across my path and settled in the sunshine for me to admire and photograph, I felt as if I might burst with happiness. The beauty of these creatures speaks to my soul!
30 Thursday Jun 2022
I saw my first Comma butterfly on 18 March and continued to spot them quite regularly until the end of April, by which time they were looking increasingly tatty. Although the adults then died off, the next generation was underway, and I saw my first ever Comma caterpillars on two consecutive days in mid May. Now, the pristine adults have begun to appear, floating along the hedgerows and woodland rides, trying very hard to convince me they’re really Silver-washed fritillaries. Their vibrant orange-and-black patterning is a joy to behold.
22 Wednesday Sep 2021
Soon, these gorgeous Commas will be looking for places to hibernate.
But first they need to stock up on nectar, to increase their energy reserves to help them survive the cold winter months.
Brambles are perfect, their berries plentiful, widespread, easily accessible, juicy, delicious.
And, when the berries are very ripe and begin to ferment, butterflies like these Commas can become more than a little tipsy as they drink.
12 Thursday Aug 2021
Adain garpiog, British butterflies, butterfly, C-falter, Comma, Comma butterfly, Robert-le-Diable
With the precision we can rely on from the Germans, the Comma is called the C-falter, the C butterfly. In France it is known as Robert-le-Diable, Robert the devil, which, according to a 2017 article in the Guardian newspaper, ‘is also the name of a favourite 19th-century Centifolia rose with a unique purple-cerise-scarlet-grey flower and a wonderful old rose fragrance; an 1831 opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer about the moral redemption of the son of a mortal and a demon; and the father of William the Conqueror, who was said to be the son of the Devil.’ Why the Comma also bears this name the Guardian writer does not specify. Here in Wales the Comma is appropriately named Adain garpiog, which translates as raggedy wing.
21 Monday Sep 2020
British butterflies, butterfly, Comma, Comma variation hutchinsoni, Polygonia c-album, Polygonia c-album var. hutchinsoni
If you happen to see a Comma butterfly on one of our fine autumnal days, have a good look at the colour of its wings. You may notice that both the upper and the undersides of its wings are quite dark, particularly when compared to some of the Commas you saw in the summer months. Why is that?
It may be that your paler summertime Comma was a hutchinsoni. The splendid Life Cycles of British & Irish Butterflies explains:
The Comma is known for a particular form named hutchinsoni that is much paler in appearance on both upperside and underside that the nominate form. This form is found throughout the butterfly’s range and is normally attributed to individuals that go on to produce a second brood in the same year. Its name is a tribute to Emma Hutchinson, a renowned Victorian entomologist … who ultimately discovered its double-brooded nature and the corresponding variation between broods. The name was announced by J.E. Robson in 1881 in The Young Naturalist: ‘The Summer form is so different, and so constant in its appearance, that it ought to have a distinctive name, and we suggest it be called var. Hutchinsoni, in compliment to the lady … whose knowledge of the species is not exceeded by that of any one living.’
In my photos, the Comma on the left, Polygonia c-album var. hutchinsoni, was photographed on 24 June, the Comma on the right on 17 September, both in the same location and on fine, sunny days. I think you can see how marked the difference in their colouring is.
31 Monday Aug 2020
aberrant Meadow brown, British butterflies, butterfly, Comma, Green-veined white, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Small copper, Small tortoiseshell
To celebrate – or, perhaps, to mourn – the last calendar day of summer, here’s a tribute to some of the beautiful butterflies I’ve seen in recent days, just because, when they’re gone, I’m really going to miss their magic.
A Comma doing what they do so well when their wings are closed – blending in.
Most of the white butterflies I’ve seen lately have been Small whites so this Green-veined white stood out from the crowd.
Here’s another that stood out – an aberrant Meadow brown. There always has to be one!
The heat wave a couple of weeks ago seems to have brought in a small influx of Painted ladies, though nothing like the numbers we had last year.
Have you ever noticed how much Red admirals like blackberries? And their colours blend in to this background rather well.
Small tortoiseshells have been having a good year locally, which has been a real treat. I even found two feeding on Red valerian right at the edge of one of the local beaches this morning.
A delightful surprise from Saturday’s walk at Cosmeston, a pristine Small copper.
12 Wednesday Aug 2020
battered butterflies, bird-pecked butterflies, British butterflies, Brown argus, Comma, Essex skipper, Gatekeeper, Painted Lady, Peacock, Ringlet, Small copper
Though second-brood butterflies are still looking pristine, many of the others are now well past their best, as life is tough for such fragile creatures. Some butterflies are so battered that I’m amazed they’re able to fly at all, yet this Gatekeeper and Ringlet were still moving from plant to plant.
Birds looking for an easy snack often attack butterflies and it’s easy to see the tell-tale signs of bird pecks on butterflies’ wings, like those on these: a Ringlet, Comma, Small copper and Peacock, and another Gatekeeper.
Is it the blazing sun that has caused this Essex skipper’s orange to fade so dramatically or has it lost most of its wing scales?
I’m 99% sure this is the same Brown argus, seen first on 1 August and again on 10 August. It already had some bird pecks when I first saw it but, nine days later, it was looking rather faded and more than a little ragged around the edges.
This Painted lady is looking battered, bird-pecked, faded and jaded, perhaps the affects of a long migration journey, or simply a tough life well survived.
02 Thursday Jul 2020
British butterflies, butterflies, butterfly egg, Comma, Comma butterfly, Comma egg, Polygonia c-album
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.
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!
12 Friday Jun 2020
British butterflies, butterfly, Comma, Green-veined white, Large skipper, Meadow Brown, Speckled wood
‘… flowers that fly and all but sing’
~ from ‘Blue-butterfly Day’, a poem by Robert Frost
These are some of the ‘flowers’ that have been flying around me this week, causing my heart to sing.
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