Friday 27 February 2015

More Very Special Little Gems.

On the Isle of Wight we can look forward to our own very special butterfly again this season when the Glanville Fritillary emerges at the end of April or early May.
The female butterfly will lay up to 200 eggs on the host food plant,Ribwort Plantain.Following the fourth moult or instar the larvae build a web in order to hibernate over the winter.After the sixth and final moult the caterpillars will disperse from their protective web and pupate

When disturbed or in inclement weather the larvae will retreat back into the undergrowth  behind their web and form into a protective ball.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

A Little Gem.

A butterfly found mainly in the southern half of the UK but sadly not on the Isle of Wight is the Silver-studded Blue.The New Forest in particular is an excellent place to see this species, with 'explosions' occurring in some years on the Forest heathlands when thousands can be seen.Sightings of this 'blue' on the Island are rare,the last is a very dubious report of an individual in 2011.Not since the 1940's has the Silver-studded Blue colonised the Island.
 The following photographs were taken on a very dismal,grey,and wet July day in the New Forest when the butterflies were keeping deep down in the heather.As with most of the 'blues'the female is not blue like the male,but rather a chocolate brown.The silvery blue 'studs' are visible on the underside of the female in the second picture.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Roll on the Summer.

Spring is not too far away now and it will be hotly followed (hopefully) by early summer.Like me, a butterfly that enjoys the sun and warmth is the rather unimaginatively named Spotted Fritillary,Melitaea didyma.It can be common in Southern Europe and I have come across this handsome butterfly on the Greek Island of Lefkada where I have seen it in dry hillside meadows.The male has a bright orange- red upperside with black spots,hence its name, whereas the female is marked  much more extensively with black.The undersides of both sexes are similar