Butterflies

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!

Poplar Hawk Moth 18.09.2013 002

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?

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5 thoughts on “Butterflies

  1. those cabbage ones devastated my kale (which is slowly recovering) but otherwise I didn’t see all that many, in spite of a large buddleia. (Spell check suggested befuddle instead of buddleia.)

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