The beauty of Butterflies.
This summer has been a great one for Butterflie's. It all seemed to start with an invasion of Painted Lady Butterflie's which were in absolute profusion in early summer and indeed lasted right through. There are still some about even now. Some Buddleia bushes were absolutely smothered in Painted Lady's early on. On the subject of Buddleia bushes, I think every garden should have at least one. It is not only the Butterflie's that they feed, but all manner of other insects, especially the Bee's.
Its not just in the daytime either. Go out after dark with a torch, and you may be suprised by the amount of Moth's feeding on the nectar too. I have five Buddleia bushes in my garden ranging from the Yellow Ball variety through to a White one and up to one of the darker varieties, though that one is not a Dark Knight variety, but I intend to get one for next year. If you do have a good variety of Buddliea, you can have at least one in flower from early spring, and right into the autumn especially if you take the time to dead-head them once a week or so. It does seem that the darker shades tend to have a much longer flowering period too.
I have also found them very easy to grow. I normally just take a few cuttings of about eight inches long in early spring and then just push them in about halfway into my vegetable patch. This seemed to work very well for me, as out of a dozen cuttings I done this way, I had nine of them take and produce flowers. I will leave them in over winter and then transplant them next spring. If you haven't got a vegetable patch, just put the cuttings into a large pot of good quality compost.
I think that Butterflie's are very easily overlooked, but if you take the time to look at them, you will be amazed by the markings on them. Take the Peacock Butterfly for instance. It actually looks as if each one has been individualy hand painted, such are the markings on them. Some are on the drab side too. The Cabbage White and the Large Skipper for instance can be so easily overlooked, but they are all individual and have a very important part to play in the ecology of all different habitats.
Because of the abundance of Butterflie's this year, I have been spoilt for choice as far as photographing them is concerned. As I have already mentioned in a previous diary entry, I was lucky enough to get a few pictures of a Scotch Argus Butterfly while up in Scotland, and I also got some gorgeous pictures of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflie's while up there. I think though, it was back in Suffolk at a wood I look after, that my real highlight came.
Every year, I do a bit of tree coppicing in the winter to create open glades and gaps in the tree canopy. We do have Purple Emperor Butterflie's up there. I have not personally seen one, but other people have, and I am always hopeful I may see one in the height of summer. Another seldom seen Butterfly we have in the wood though, is the White Admiral. I did see my first one in there last year, but have never been able to get a picture of one as they tend to be fast flying and very alert to danger. This year though, one of my glades presented the perfect opportunity to get some real close-up shots.
I had already seen two White Admiral's up one of the main rides, but they were sticking to the tree tops and would appear and disappear just as quickly. So I went to one of the glades to see if I could see anything there, and I wasn't disappointed. There were in fact three White Admiral's there and what was more, they had found the nectar in the bramble flowers and were very reluctant to leave their food source. So with a bit of patience and careful manoeuvring, I was able to get right up close to them without disturbing them.
And what a reward too! It wasn't so much the markings on the uppermost side of the wings, but the markings on the underside when they closed their wings, that blew me away. The pattern to me was just so intricate and reminded me of marble. It was quit mesmerising looking at them through the view finder as I was busy taking the shots. So if you have never really paid that much attention to Butterflie's, and also Moth's, give it a go next summer. I dont think you will be disappointed.