Not going far – seeing more

On the 12 April I noticed a small tortoiseshell butterfly egg laying on the garden patch of nettles.  These have now hatched and, characteristically, the caterpillars have formed a communal silken web around the uppermost leaves for protection whilst they continue feeding.  Six days before, a comma had used the same patch of nettles for egg laying (see reported dated 13 April 2010).  Comma eggs are laid singularly and the caterpillar also spins a silk web on the underside of the leaf.  At this stage they are less conspicuous than the small tortoiseshell butterfly so I am not too surprised not to have found a caterpillar so far..

On the 14 April while sitting next  to the nettles armed with a cuppa and a piece of cake I noticed an orange tip butterfly egg laying on the flower of a garlic mustard sometimes known as jack-by-the-hedge.  I was unable to see any eggs without causing damage.  However, it appears they are laid singularly.  This may be a blessing, because as they grow the caterpillars may be cannibalistic and no doubt more so when food is in short supply.

On 6 May in accordance with the official Coronavirus outbreak advice of stay home stay safe I once again got myself comfortable with a cuppa and another piece of cake next to this tiny and yet action packed patch of nettles.  I was soon joined by a small tortoiseshell butterfly.  This time I could clearly see her carefully releasing the eggs from her ovipositor on the underside of one of the uppermost leaves.  See attached photos.    Eggs are normally laid in batches 0f 60 to 100 so I am not sure how many may survive particularly as the caterpillars have very large appetites.  So during this very dry spell I have been busy watering the nettle bed to ensure there is a supply of fresh growth for the growing numbers of caterpillars.  Not sure this is reflecting too well on my horticultural credentials!

small tortoishell eggs on nettle

small tortoishell eggs on nettle

small tortoiseshell egg laying

small tortoiseshell egg laying