Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Yet another butterfly

Yesterday, while hanging out the washing I saw a pretty butterfly ( . . . now haven't I said all this before on another occasion??) Anyway, it seemed to be taking its ease on a windowsill so I went indoors to fetch my camera and was delighted to find it was still posing helpfully so I took a photograph - well, I would have done but I'd forgotten to replace the memory chip after downloading to my laptop :-{. Needless to say the butterfly fluttered off before I could do the necessary. Muttering to myself I continued with the chores. (What chores? Gin and tonic please. . . . tada! . . . groan)Later on, Barry was walking the estate, camera at the ready, and took photos of a very pretty butterfly supping on the Candytuft - and it was the very same one I had seen in the morning, or at least a very close relative. I had no idea what it was so referred to 'Britain's Butterflies' by David Tomlinson which is illustrated beautifully with photographs, maps and drawings by Rob Still.
It is a Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) a butterfly that is very successful in the southern half of England. In recent years it has been gradually extending its range northwards. It is sometimes called the Hedge Brown because it favours shrubs and hedgerows. It lives in colonies of variable size and doesn't stray far from its community. It likes to rest with wings outspread in the sun.

Gatekeepers start to fly in mid-July with a peak of butterflies at the beginning of August. The flight period ends with the end of the month.

This particular individual is a female, already looking a little ragged on the hind wings. Males have a dark band of scales on the forewing - this is called the 'sex brand'. Although they are common and widespread they are vulnerable to intensive agricultural practices and removal of hedgerows.

Candytuft (Iberis umbellata) is a member of the Brassicaceae family, related to mustard. The name derives from Candia, the former name of Iraklion in Crete.

9 comments:

  1. What an interesting name! Love your blooms:)

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  2. Lovely butterfly. I have seen White Candytuft but not the lavender. Very pretty!

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  3. That's a new one on me, don't think we get them this far north.

    After a slow start our buddleia bushes have been very busy with butterflies, I thought we weren't going to be getting any! Mostly Peacocks, lots of Painted Ladys (ladies?), various whites plus the odd Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral. I could spend all day watching and photographing but have had to make do with the odd few minutes here and there. They may well make an appearance on my blog.

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  4. I do enjoy reading your blogs Janice. I hadn't seen you here for a couple of days, and was about to email you to see if you had caught Barry's flu! We have a great many butterflies along the Humber bank area, but have not succesfully photographed any yet. The numbers of ladybirds are amazing.

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  5. Carla - thank you. I thought it was a lovely name too.
    sweet bay - we have all colours from white through red to purple but it's an annual and doesn't seem to self-seed.
    Gennasus - buddleias are lovely for attracting butterflies and bees. We had a very poor specimen a few years ago - I think it died in the drought. Look forward to seeing your butterflies . . .
    sylvia - life's been a bit busy as Dorothy broke her arm and we've been to-ing and fro-ing from Berkshire to Dorset.Interesting that the ladybird invasion has reached Lincolnshire - I knew they were abundant this year in Norfolk and Somerset.

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  6. Lovely shots and good info about the butterfly, as Genasus said, we don't see them up here. You've just reminded me of how much I like candytuft, must remember to sow some next year

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  7. Chris - glad to be of service ;-)

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  8. That is a beautiful butterfly and you really captured it.

    Anne

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  9. Thank you Anne :-)I will pass your compliment on to the L&M

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