As has been well documented in the press, this year the old butterflies have been dealt a rather rough hand! The relentless wet weather is simply not to their taste, with heavy downpours disrupting their life cycle and in extreme cases killing them. In spite of this my butterfly project is back on this year, raising native species for release into the garden. Some details of last year’s antics and the miraculous transformation that the caterpillars undergo can be found here! Let us all just hope that the chaps we launch this summer will find a break in the clouds to go on and boost the failing populations. This year I am raising Comma, Brimstone and Peacock butterflies, and also branching out with Vapourer and Elephant-Hawk moths! The latter are still quite small, but I will be sure to provide photographic proof of them later on. Quite a spectacle, I must say!
|The Elephant Hawk Moth eggs are competitively rather large, indicative of the caterpillars that follow!|
|Vapourer Moth eggs are laid by the female who will not travel much farther than the leaf she hatches on. The male locates her position by the pheromones she emits, and after mating she immediately lays eggs and dies. A brief, but one might say crucial contribution|
|The distinctively attired Comma larva|
|Peacock caterpillars are a rowdy bunch, often seen feeding prominently en masse|
|The pupae of the Peacock is considerably less conspicuous|
|The wings of the new butterfly are still wet after pupation, so these dramatic splashes of dye can often be seen on leaves beneath the pupa|
|First the caterpillar finds a suitable position in which to settle, and anchors itself to the surroundings with delicate webbing. This is a Brimstone here, notable for being incredibly well camouflaged amongst the leaves of the Buckthorn|
|Then the caterpillar transforms into a pupa to complete the miracle that is metamorphosis!|
|Netting protects the larvae from merciless devils such as birds, wasps and parasitic flies! It also stops them sneaking off unannounced, as these caterpillar blighters are nomadic so-and-so’s and you have to keep an eye on them|
|A freshly emerged Brimstone!|
A brief interlude here, as I am just leaving to complete a placement at Gravetye Manor in East Sussex. Cheerio!