Over-Wintering Butterflies

I’ve been spending some time searching for waxcap mushrooms (Hygrocybe) whilst in West Wales. Today, I looked in the graveyard of the small chapel at Berea, near St Davids and I found something interesting.

Large White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae)

On some of the gravestones, there were a number of chrysalises, tucked into recesses in the stonework.

Gravestone at Berea, West Wales.

Species of moths and butterflies can over-winter as adults, eggs, larvae or pupe, depending on the species. The large white spends the winter as a pupa.The area around St Davids is often windy, being flat and very close to the sea, and the pupae were on the sheltered sides of the gravestones.

Each one was held in place by what looks like a single strand of silk. I don’t know whether this is really a single strand or is made from lots of individual strands.

 

 

Butterflies at Engine Wood, Nostell Priory

On the edge of a large nettle bed close to Engine Wood I watched a male small tortoiseshell butterfly establish a courtship territory. It was basking in the morning sunshine and suddenly taking flight high into the sky to investigate every passing small tortoiseshell butterfly.  Other males were chased away before eventually, a female was attracted back to the nettle bed where I managed to take the image below. It appears mating takes place well inside the nettle bed and afterwards the female goes off in search of suitable nettles to lay her eggs.  Sadly, nettles are often cleared away as part of clean ups in the garden and countryside.  My encounter shows how valuable nettles are to wildlife.  Indeed, they are vital food plants for the caterpillars of small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma and red admiral butterflies. The other image is of a roosting male orange tip butterfly that I found earlier in the morning
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small tortoiseshell mating

small tortoiseshell mating

orange tip male roosting

orange tip male roosting

Townclose Hills Field Meeting 10 July 2016

Pyramidal, common spotted and a hybrid orchid were in flower on the plateau at Townclose Hills Nature Reserve, also known as Billy Woods.

Townclose Hill

Townclose Hill

Despite the breeze we saw ringlet, meadow brown, small tortoiseshell, small skipper and a few marbled white butterflies. Six-spot burnet moths were also active and a hebrew character moth lurked amongst the grasses.

Hybrid orchid, pyramidal orchid, grater knapweed, hoary plantain.

Hybrid orchid, pyramidal orchid, grater knapweed, hoary plantain.

One of the smallest orb-web spiders, Araniella curcurbitina, was making its way across a grassy path. It’s Latin name, curcurbitina, means ‘a little member of the gourd family’;  its bright green and yellow striped abdomen looks like a water melon or gourd. It has a scarlet patch on its underside.

Restharrow, clustered bellflower, wild marjoram.

Restharrow, clustered bellflower, wild marjoram.

We spotted a brown hare in a field in the valley of Kippax Brook to the west of the reserve.

Townclose Hills, Kippax, is a Leeds City Council Local Nature Reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.