We have had a run of warm sunny days and the butterflies have been out in force. The two butterflies above are speckled woods that were tumbling and dancing in the sun. I thought this was a mating dance but after reading it could also be males in a disputed over sunny areas !!
They were difficult to capture as a photo but I think the images give a good idea of their movement.
The Speckled Wood (Pararge Algeria) is found in woodlands . The males perch in pools of sunlight and will rise up to intercept intruders, which is what we saw.
In the last 40 years there has been an amazing 71% increase in distribution and a 84% increase in the abundance of this dancing butterfly.
These butterflies mainly feed on honeydew in the tops of trees. They only feed on flowers early in the year when aphid numbers are low.
Brimstone butterflies have been a feature of these three days of sun in different habitats, in meadows, lake sides and woods. They have also been seen in fluttering groups and sailing through vegetation and trees. The Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) only lays one brood of eggs per year.The peak flying times for Brimstone is April and May, this is when hibernating adults emerge.There is another peak in August when the new generation reach adulthood.
The larvae feed on Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn.
This picture shows the shape of the pale yellow wings , caught in mid flight by nature table explorer Tim who captured these flying shots.A great photo of the butterfly feeding , it’s wings looking quite leaf like.
Another butterfly that has been all around us, actually usually just out of camera shot has been the Orange Tip (Anthocharus cardimines). Male and female orange Tips look different, the Male has bright orange tips to it’s wings whereas the female is white with black tips to it’s wings. They both have mottled green underwings.The caterpillars feed on plants from the crucifer family such as milk maids ( in the photo) they also feed on a large range of plants from the family. Orange Tips are one of the first butterflies to emerge that have not overwintered as an adult.
The photo shows a female on milk maid.
Another butterfly that was abundant in this sunny weather is the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus). These blue butterflies emerge early compared to other blue species. The larvae feed on the flower buds, berries and terminal buds of Holly in the Spring generation and Ivy in the Summer generation. These pretty butterflies are often seen in gardens. The numbers fluctuate significantly and this is because of a parasitic wasp called Listrodomus nycthemerus. This wasp has the Holly Blue as it’s only host, the wasp lays it’s eggs in the Holly Blue larvae. A single adult wasp emerges from the Holly Blue pupa !
The Easter weekend of sun was full of butterflies , hover flies,bee flies,bumble bees , the list goes on,so many insects …BRILLIANT !