Friday, 31 July 2015

A Regular Garden Visitor.

My interests do not normally turn to moths but the Jersey Tiger Moth is an exception.At this time of year I can find at least one in my garden as the moth flies in the daytime as well as at night.It is thought that it is resident on the Isle of Wight and its distribution covers many parts of Southern England as far as London.


Thursday, 30 July 2015

Something New,Something Blue.

With a report of a probable second brood of  Small Blue at a nearby established colony a few days ago,I was at last able to take a look for our smallest butterfly.The weather has been very changeable over recent days but thankfully today the strong wind had abated and we enjoyed some warm sunny periods.It was not long before I came across two mating pairs and although Small Blue colonies tend to be fairly small ,such as this particular one,hopefully a few more butterflies will emerge.
The flight period is from May to late June with an occasional second brood in late July and August.At this location however it is normal for this species to appear in April. 




Sunday, 26 July 2015

Back to Normal.

The Silver-washed Fritillary is a majestic butterfly of our woodlands in the summer months.The male is a strong flyer along our woodland glades stopping on feed at bramble flowers. The female on the other hand can sometimes be seen flying  in the shade of oak trees seeking a suitable place to lay her eggs at the base of the tree.
As they mature the female Silver-washed develop a slight green tinge to their upper wings.This can vary intensity and the female pictured below has a significant greening of her wings.Unlike the valezina form it does not extend to all the upper side.

Male Silver-washed.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

On the Lookout for Something Special.

In the south of England including the Isle of Wight up to 15% of female Silver-washed Fritillaries occur in the beautiful form of valezina. These females are olive-green in colour with an underside of washed pink.This individual pictured below was spotted today in a nearby copse enjoying the ample bramble flowers.






Thursday, 23 July 2015

Pretty as a Picture.

The Painted Lady is a regular visitor to the UK although numbers vary greatly from year to year.We can have several broods during the course of the summer and there cannot be a more pleasant sight than a freshly emerged Painted Lady enjoying the sunshine and feeding in a warm flowery location.Therefore today in my local wood it was lovely to see several individuals  on bramble and thistle flowers.



Thursday, 16 July 2015

The First of Many.

The Chalk-hill Blue can be very prolific on our chalk downland from mid-July to September.A walk along the bridleway to West High Down this afternoon produced a good variety of butterflies but no Chalk-hill Blues.Even on the Down and despite the abundant flowering plants, no Blues.So I had almost resigned myself to another visit in a day or two when  returning from the Down along the bridleway the beautiful silvery-blue of a male Chalk-hill in flight caught my eye.He was flying strongly over the drifts of Hemp-agrimony that are just bursting into flower and a definite favourite with many butterflies.




Thursday, 9 July 2015

Back on the Downs.

Since my last walk up to West High Down a few days ago the Giant Thistles are now in bloom and attracting a myriad of butterflies,bees,and other insects.Happily,among them are the Dark Green Fritillaries.The promise of rich nectar has slowed them down  and they can  be observed a little better, now that they are stationary for a few seconds.
With the flush of new flowering plants there is an increase in butterflies especially the Small Skipper. 




Wednesday, 8 July 2015

That Looks Unusual....

It is always worth taking a closer look at even the common butterflies when out and about.There is a chance that you may be fortunate enough to come across an unusual individual or more correctly an aberration.Most species it seems are prone to aberration and some forms of aberration  are classified, but then again many are listed as unclassified.
For a comprehensive list and extensive information on recognized aberrations I would recommend a visit  to the excellent website  British  Butterfly Aberrations.

A Glanville Fritillary with more black than normal on upper hind wings

A Meadow Brown displaying loss of colour over much of its hind wing

A Dark Green Fritillary with extensive black on its upper wings.



Friday, 3 July 2015

A Red-letter Day.

The White-letter Hairstreak is a secretive butterfly and relies on the elm tree for its life cycle.Therefore disaster struck when in the 1970s Dutch Elm Disease decimated millions of British elms.Fortunately,the caterpillar can survive on new sucker growth and their recovery has been helped too by the dedicated work of local wildlife and butterfly conservation volunteers who have planted disease resistant elms.
So it was a great day today when I had the opportunity, for the first time, to see these lovely little butterflies.An eagle-eyed friend of mine had seen butterfly activity around such a resistant elm and as they tend to spend much of their time towards the top of the tree obtaining good views of this Hairstreak is difficult.However my luck was in today as several individuals descended to the lower branches to seemingly investigate the elm tree buds.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Up on the Downs.

On the chalk downs that overlook our south-west coastal stretch there are several species of butterfly that find this habitat to their liking.One such species is the Dark Green Fritillary and now is the time to see the first individuals.This morning I could see them as they rushed around at great speed on the hunt for nectar-rich flowers.One of their favourite plants is the giant thistle although at present there seem to be very few in flower.As they are very partial to this thistle it will be perhaps the best way to get a good look at these fast fliers 
On the subject of thistles this is also a important plant for the Painted Lady on which they lay their eggs.While up on the down today I was lucky enough to see this rather mature female go about her business.