Monday, 6 July 2009

Monday 6th.July 2009

What with the weather and things that needed doing , I only managed to get out for about an hour and a half this afternoon . As the wind was so strong , I decided that it would be a waste of time and fuel travelling any distance , so I settled on the Common . Not at the Ash tree , which was probably horizontal at times today , but at the more sheltered earthworks , where I got the Purple Hairstreak underwing the other morning .There were butterflies about , but I'm going to tell about a beautiful , dedicated , brave young female , that I was lucky enough to witness at a stand of stinging nettles .
I spotted her , being buffeted by that strong wind , being blown all over the place , and I wondered what she was trying to do . Every time she landed on the nettles , she was blown off . It must have happened 20/30 times , but each time she came back again , not interested in any other vegetation . Eventually , she came to rest , on the windward side of the nettles , and appeared to fold one of the fresh leaves , near the top of the stem . There she remained motionless , but somehow , not blown off . I had my suspicions of what was happening , but didn't want to disturb her . After about 5 minutes , a massive gust blew her off the leaf , and my hat right across the path behind me . When I got back , she looked as if she was still recovering from the experience . Not to be defeated , she began the whole process again , searching for that same nettle leaf . It took some time , but she eventually found it , but this time , kept her wings tight shut , with less resistance to the wind . In this position , my suspicions were confirmed , she was indeed egg laying . She was hanging on to the leaf and her upturned abdomen was depositing the eggs on the underside of the leaf . I watched for a while , then left her to it while I had another look around . During that time , I recorded 12 species of butterfly , albeit in low numbers . The full list was , Green Veined White (1) , Small Skipper (4) . Large Skipper (3) , Ringlet (4) , Meadow Brown (15) , Gatekeeper (6) , Purple Hairstreak (1) , Holly Blue (1) , Small White (2) , Large White (3) , Comma (8) and of course Small Tortoiseshell (1). When I returned to the nettles after a while , she was gone , and when I carefully turned over the leaf she was on , her eggs could be seen . I marked the nettle stem with some dried grass , and hopefully will post good news on their journey to brightening the area next year .
Thank you to Dean , who has put sawfly larvae forward for the unknown caterpillar that posted the other day . That would explain why ShySongbird and myself have been unable to come up with anything in the moth world , but thank you for your efforts . I have looked at these caterpillars every year for I don't know how long , so hopefully it can be put to rest .
Since posting , I carried on looking at pictures of Sawfly larvae . Then , an inspiration , I have always seen them on Yellow Flag Iris . So I googled 'Iris Sawfly' , and there is one , apparently called Rhadinoceraea micans . I can really put it to rest now , thanks to Dean for the right shove , and not forgetting ShySongbirds help .


Warren Baker said...

Hi Greenie,
Now would I really want to see you go ar*e over T*T ?

I read a good article in the British Wildlife magazine last night. All about purple hairstreaks, apparently they are best observed in the evening.

Don't forget to keep us posted on the ST eggs

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
What a nice story about the Small Tortoiseshell. After lots of effort she succeeded in doing exactly what she set out to do.
Nice butterfly count.

Josh Jenkins Shaw said...

Would it be possible to have you email address?

Greenie said...

Josh ,
Certainly , it's

Anonymous said...

Glad to have been able to help, Greenie. And thanks for saying so.

Kingsdowner said...

Greenie, you patience and understanding of your subjects do you credit.

ShySongbird said...

What a determined and dedicated butterfly, it must have been very rewarding to watch her.

I'm so pleased you solved the mystery,at least I won't wonder what it is now if I find it!

I wonder if I could trouble you to nip over to my blog Greenie, to ID a flower which I thought might be some type of vetch, I was hoping someone might have recognised it but no luck so far! I'm sure I should know it, my old Mum would have, she knew the names of just about every wild thing there is, much like yourself!