The screensaver on my laptop is a slideshow of my best butterfly photos, one per species, and every time it plays, my heart yearns for butterflies. I know some people have already seen the odd butterfly that’s emerged from hibernation on a particularly warm day but I’ve yet to see my first. Maybe I need to change my screensaver.
Remember yesterday’s The last Small copper?
Well, I wrote the first part of that post last week, then, a couple of days later, was dazzled by the glinting of another Small copper at a different location. Will there be more, I wonder?
As I walk slowly along a narrow footpath between tall stands of meadowsweet and willowherbs, thistles and fleabane, I catch, out of the corner of my eye, a fleeting flash of orange, and quickly turn my head towards it, follow it, try desperately not to lose sight of it. I’m in luck. It settles, turns, opens its wings. And I don’t know whether to be overjoyed to see this most unexpected, glistening Small copper or saddened at the thought that this will, in all probability, be my last Small copper sighting of the year.
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.
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.
bonking neetles, British butterflies, British crickets, British grasshoppers, Common red soldier beetle, Green-veined white, Long winged cone-head, Meadow grasshopper, Nettle weevil, Small copper, weevil
Some snippets from the insect world around me:
A sure sign that it’s now high summer, Common red soldier beetles (Rhagonycha fulva) can be seen everywhere, especially on the flowers of umbellifers, demonstrating why they are often called bonking beetles.
Also caught copulating, these Green-veined white butterflies (Pieris napi) were being annoyed by a third of their kind, trying to get involved in the action.
On the subject of butterflies, the second brood of Small coppers (Lycaena phlaeas) is now on the wing. This stunning specimen was only the second Small copper I’d seen this year, so was a very welcome sighting.
There’s nothing cuter than a weevil. This one is, I think, a Nettle weevil (Phyllobius pomaceus).
I found this odd: a colony of ants, farming a horde of aphids on this ragwort plant, have extended their nest up the very stem of the plant.
To finish this post, first, a Meadow grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus) nymph and …
… another nymph, also often a meadow dweller, this time a cricket species, a Long winged cone-head (Conocephalus fuscus).