The summer of 2013 has been the best for butterflies in recent years.
I have seen lots of White butterflies. As a child I knew these as cabbage white butterflies. My mother’s cabbage and Brussels sprouts plants often became infested with the caterpillars of one of the white butterflies. As far as I know there are at least three different species of white butterflies, which I may have seen this year.
I find it easier to identify the coloured ones, although brown ones and blue ones can be tricky to check against pictures in a book. We had one sort on the lavender which had a blue male and brown female!
Most summers bring the Painted lady, Red admiral, Small tortoiseshell and Peacock. Copper butterflies are also usual. For the first time this year I have noticed Wall butterflies, Gatekeepers and Large tortoiseshell butterflies in our locality.
I think the blue butterflies were silver-studded.
Moths are even more difficult to identify. It is easier to observe their caterpillars. The various hawk moths have caterpillars with a distinctive horn at the rear end. Privet hedges used to be very popular in suburban gardens in my youth, but the privet hawk moth caterpillar we found then was on a lilac tree as far as I remember!
This year we found a poplar hawk moth caterpillar, which camouflaged well with the leaves of the white poplar. (The background is rosemary clippings.)
A friend asked me how to tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth. I told her how their antennae differ and the way their wings fold. I can’t remember not being able to tell them apart! (When I was ten years old my favourite subjects were English and nature study, but I dropped biology about four years later.)
The other remarkable thing to me about the butterflies this year is that I saw several during the first week or so of October. We were enjoying some very pleasant autumn days.
What was your summer like for butterflies?