Saturday, 9 May 2009

Flutterby

Lots of small butterflies are to be seen fluttering among the flowering plants at this time of year. Sadly, the numbers of butterflies has plummeted in recent years but some little gems are still to be found. This Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) was seen - briefly - settled on a dandelion just long enough to take a snap.

Only the male of the species has orange tips to its wings. The females are far more plain and look more like Small 'cabbage' Whites. They are to be seen mostly flitting around Cuckoo Flowers (Lady's Smock), Garlic Mustard and other members of the cabbage family as they lay their eggs on them.
Rather 'browner' and less showy are the Speckled Wood butterflies (Pararge aegeria).

These little fellows' caterpillars feed on various types of grass and are still fairly common in Britain. The eye spots on the wings are there to fool birds and other predators. Any attacker going for these 'eyes' will do the butterfly no harm at all (except for ruining the neat edges of it's wings).
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