Thursday, May 19, 2011

The butterflies are back...

...Well, actually they've been back for a while now.  I just haven't got round to writing about them.

I don't have a large garden but it does have a diversity of nectar sources through the year so I attract the migrant species whose restless wings can carry them considerable distances.  Butterflies like the small white - a pest on my allotment brassicas but welcome in a garden where it can do no harm.  Although this pair might have had designs on my nasturtiums when I photographed them a few years ago.

Small whites - Pieris rapae - mating in the garden
I do have a couple of resident species.  By resident I mean that my garden is one amongst many that is part of their territory.  In many ways any collection of gardens is a lot like a woodland edge habitat.  Trees and shrubs provide shade and shelter, perennials and annuals the nectar sources and the odd wilder garden or garden patch the food source for the next generation.  Hardly surprising that speckled wood butterflies are regulars here.  I saw my first one back in early April - about the same time as they were appearing in the local woods - and I regularly get males taking up a territory in a sunny spot.

Speckled wood - Pararge aegeria
Later in the year I'll see the other resident.  The Gatekeeper is only small - but very welcome.  Both of these feed on wild grasses - and, looking over the fences into neighbours gardens, there are plenty of those around.

Gatekeeper - Pyronia tithonus
The migrant species will be here later in the year to add their own welcome colour - but that's a subject for another blog entry.

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