The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.



Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Autumn

I have to admit that I do find this time of year a little depressing. The long Scottish summer evenings are noticeably shortening each day, the temperatures are dropping and the butterflies are decidedly tatty!
The Swallows have started to gather on the power lines, psyching themselves up for the long flight to Africa. I'm actually rather envious. I would love to spend some time in Africa in search of insects!



I had a surprise package arrive last week. My wife phoned me to say that an envelope had dropped through the door, which said "Live insects, handle with care"! She opened it to find a little container with four caterpillars in it! Four years ago I ordered some Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas, eggs. They didn't arrive because of a lack of stock, and as they were part of a bigger order I wasn't to concerned. The following year I inquired about them, but heard nothing more and so I forgot about them. Now I have some little companions to keep an eye on over the winter! I rushed out and dug up some dock plants and put them in a pot and so far the caterpillars are doing well.


I also noticed that our neighbour has a row of Nasturtiums planted along the foot of her fence outside her garden. These have become more skeletal over the last few days as a result of the abundance of Large White butterflies, Pieris brassicae. They have obviously laid a lot of eggs and the Nasturtiums are covered in caterpillars. Amongst them are a few Small White, Pieris rapae, caterpillars.


Knowing that our neighbour is a very keen gardener, I am sure the Nasturtiums will soon be pulled up, so I took the opportunity to liberate a few of the caterpillars and put them on our Nasturtiums.
I even noticed that most of the Garlic Mustard plants around the fields are covered in Large White caterpillars. I hope the farmer doesn't plough too close to the edges and that these caterpillars make it through to adulthood.


During August there were more Large White butterflies here than I have ever seen before. Some years I only see about ten in total, but this year I have been getting used to seeing more than 20 a day. Hopefully a good proportion of the progeny of this year's butterflies will make it through to next year.


The adults are starting to look rather tattered now. There are also quite a few Peacocks, Aglais io, still flying.


I have allowed a patch of Pepper Mint to take over a corner of our garden as the flowers are proving to be very attractive to all sorts of insects. I would love to be able to identify the bumble bees that are all over it, but I find it really difficult to separate one from another.


The mint has even taken over much of the pond. The frogs don't seem to mind, though. Under all of that weed there are hundreds of tadpoles. I don't know why they haven't developed more quickly. Normally they would be little froglets by now.


It is a funny thought that although, in a month or so, I won't be seeing any more butterflies there will be eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises and adult butterflies hiding away waiting to emerge next spring. This year has been fantastic for butterflies. I really hope that next year will be as good!

8 comments:

  1. I truly enjoy reading your post. The last photo of the frog splattered with leaves is interesting and highly ornamental for the amphibian. I saw a similar photo in National Geography.

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    1. Thanks Elsie. It is good to share what is going on with wildlife and in our gardens around the world.

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  2. Hello Nick! Swallows fly over our house regularly, much more than they used to do, and sometimes skim the water and drink on the wing. It's a lovely sight! Tell me Nick are your caterpillars contained inside a box or something!! It will be very interesting to watch their development. The bee looks like a lucorum Bumble bee, but since I have the same difficulty identifying them, I can't be sure.:) Lovely post:)

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    1. Thanks Sonjia.
      I love sitting out on a summer's evening watching and listening to the Swallows and Swifts shrieking and flying overhead.
      The caterpillars are just on plants in the borders or pots. You have given me an idea, though. Many of the caterpillars are in quire perilous places and I could try putting some of them into plastic containers with pots of their food plants. That way I would hopefully also find them when they turn into chrysalises. I nave noticed that the Nasturtiums that are growing amongst the Pepper Mint don't have any caterpillars on them. I think the smell of the mint must be putting them off. It is a shame as the bees and hover flies love the Pepper Mint flowers.

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  3. Hi Nick! I'm glad I may have been of some help!:) I just came over to ask you if you would pass by my blog and see if I have ID'd the butterfly correctly. I'm not entirely certain it is a Holly.Blue, as the dark margin is not very prevalent.
    Hope you are well.:)

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    1. Your Holly Blue is correct! A butterfly that I was hoping I may see over here this year, but sadly I didn't. One or two are seen here each year, so there must be a hidden colony somewhere!!
      It has been a beautiful day here and strangely the swallows have returned. I suspect they must be ones that spent the summer further north on their journey south.

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  4. Wow. I never imagined I'd have so much fun reading about your year in butterflies. In Singapore the butterfly activity goes up and down throughout the year but we're blessed with summer all year long. We see butterflies all the time. I wonder what it's like not to see them fluttering around entirely...


    Jonny.

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  5. Hi Jonny,
    I often feel a little sad at this time of year knowing that I won't see a butterfly for a few months. I suppose that the excitement of seeing the first butterflies in the spring makes up for it to a degree. There is a bit of a thrill anticipating Orange Tips in April, Ringlets in July, etc.
    I really would love to live somewhere where there are butterflies all year round. I also like the idea of butterflies not being quite so weather dependent as they are here. On the other hand I often wonder if I would become a little complacent if there were butterflies here all year around. I doubt it!
    In the winter the blogs about what butterflies are flying in other parts of the world keep me going!!

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