Three new butterflies in my garden this week, before the weather turned cool and wet. Very wet. My waterbutts which drained the summerhouse roof are nearly full, and it’s not that big a roof!
I find it very difficult to identify butterflies on the wing. Two of those in the garden this week were doing just that, flying around the bank, and disappearing into the hedge on the either side. Odd that one was going one way, and one the other!
My immediate reaction was, I’ll never identify those two!
The first was on the small side, about the same as a Small White, and unusually orange at the distance of across the garden. Lighter than a Comma. That turned out to be a good benchmark, as with all wildlife: same size as…, colours like…
The second wafted through swiftly, pausing for a brief settle on the grass before dashing off. It reminded me of a Holly Blue, but bright orange.
I reached for my guide to butterflies*, which helpfully has a symbol to show whether it occurs in the British Isles (which saves hours of misdirection. Flicking through I came across something that I could easily have taken for an orange small white… a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Other fritillaries are very similar, but if in doubt, go for the common one that meets all the other criteria: size, colour, months on the wing, habitat. The ‘small’ version is more abdunant than the not-small one, so I went for that
Habitat is a hard one as I’m not sure what my wildlife corridors are like at present. But there is agricultural and meadow land not far away, and trees in abundance, so I don’t discount things that like those habitats rather than gardens.
The ‘small holly blue’ was a dead ringer for a Small Heath. I don’t think there’s anything else it could be. I’m really plased to add that to my life list of butterflies!
The third Butterfly
The third Butterfly needs no introduction, it was a Comma, which settled to sun itself on the summerhouse side when I was sitting outside with the guinea pigs in the afternoon. The colour, pattern, and ragged edges to its wings are distinctive. If it has its wings at rest, you can see a white comma mark in the centre of the dark underside. Commas like brambles, and are often out later than most butterflies, to enjoy the hedgerows in September. So I look forward to seeing this Comma again.
All pictures from the collection at Butterfly Conservation, along with excellent information on all aspects of butterflies and moths in UK and continental Europe.
Weekend of Wildness
#30DaysWild is promoting a weekend of wildness tomorrow and Sunday, but the weather isn’t promising. I was hoping to have a sleep-out, which I have been saying I would do one year….
*Mitchell Beazley pocket guide to Butterflies by Paul Whalley. It may be out of print, but worth getting second-hand.