Thursday, 8 May 2014
A couple of days ago I was driving past a site that, from previous years, I knew was a good place to spot some ‘early’ butterflies. It was sunny and the temperature was good, although there was quite a stiff wind blowing, so I thought that if I could find a sheltered spot I might just be lucky.
I’d only walked a few yards from the car park when I was rewarded by seeing my first butterflies, a dozen or so Green Hairstreaks ‘fighting’ over their territory around a Hawthorn bush.
Encouraged, I moved further on into the site and soon encountered more Green Hairstreaks, and in good numbers too, many more than I’d seen here in previous years. It wasn’t long before I started to see some of the other species that inhabit this site. In the end I spent over four, very enjoyable, butterfly filled hours there.
Green Hairstreak (calophrys rubi)….
Has a wingspan of 27-34mm. and both sexes are alike, except that the male has a pale oval sexual mark on the upper forewings. The upper wings are brown with a golden tinge, while the underside is an unmistakable green and carries a very fine somewhat broken white line - the 'hairstreak'. The back edge of the hindwing has some white fringing and a slightly scalloped appearance, with vestigial tail. It’s flight period is from mid April to the end of July.
This pair wasted no time in getting down to business!
Duke of Burgundy (hamearis lucina)….
The sexes are roughly similar, the male a shade smaller with a wingspan of about 29mm. The male has a dark brown and black ground colour with 3 irregular tawny bands on the forewing, the outer containing 5 black spots near the margins. The hindwings are dark brown with 5 small oval tawny slashes and a broad dark border. Both wings have a white fringe intercrossed by black vein markings. On the underside, the forewing is dappled with black, orange, brown and white flashes with some small black centres in the outer tawny edge and, again, white fringing intersected by black vein marks.The hindwing has two white bands across and then a marginal band of orange crescents each containing black spots and finishing with the white blackcrossed fringe. The female has similar markings but they are altogether lighter and more open. The flight period is from the end of April to mid June.
Dingy Skipper (erynnis tages)….
As its name suggests this small, moth like, butterfly has an overall dark sombre appearance, but close inspection shows an attractive, if plain, even patterning of dark and light blotches with a pale curved band across the forewings and a row of light dots around the wing edges and an outer pale fringe. The insect is about 29mm across when the wings are spread. The flight period is short..from early May to late June.
Grizzled Skipper (pyrgus malvae)….
The Grizzled Skipper is easily identified when it is settled: on the wing it is rather a blur. It is a small butterfly (27mm across the spread wings) and unmistakeably chequered black and white - the black being the dominant colour - and ornamented with numerous white square patches. The edging fringe is also black and white. Both sexes are similar but the male carries the sexual scent gland in a fold in the edge of the forewing. The underside of the wings are lighter, a grey-green colour with more obvious white patches. Flight period from late April till the end of June.
There were not many of these around…I only managed to get this one image.
And to finish off some images of the other butterflies that I’ve taken over the last few weeks…
A beautiful backlit Brimstone (gonepteryx rhamni)
The gardeners best friend…the Cabbage White or, to give it it’s proper name, the Small White (pieris rapae)
A female Orange Tip (anthocharis cardamines)
A Holly Blue (celastrina argiolus) getting well stuck into a Buttercup.
n.b. all the information and descriptions are courtesy of Bird Guides/British Butterflies.