Butterflies in the sun
I think butterflies, and possibly other insects, had a slow start this year. Bees were scarce early on and there were not many butterflies for most of August. But now we have high pressure sitting on us and the afternoons have been warm and still, all the butterflies seem to have stopped off in the garden. By far the majority of the butterflies have been small tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae) but there have been a good number of peacocks (Inachis io) – above. Less showy, but just as charming, there have been lots of the brown speckled wood (Pararge aegeria). There have been a few red admirals (Vanessa atalanta) which is exciting, and a few painted ladies (Cynthia cardui) which are immigrants. Of course there are cabbage whites (Pieris brassicae). The cat loves to pounce on butterflies and, if successful, eat them but I stop her bothering the ‘good ones’ and she can eat as many cabbage whites as she wants.
It is not surprising that tortoiseshells and peacocks are the most common since the food plants for the larvae is nettles, and there are plenty around in the hedges. A wide range of flowers are being visited, and there is a big preference for ‘daisy’ flowers including helianthus, cosmos, dahlias, marigolds, rudbeckia and zinnias. Statice is another magnet and sweet Williams. The round bed of white sweet Williams is covered in tortoiseshells in the afternoon, with dozens feeding away. The buddleias are more or less over but the sedums are starting to open so I am sure attention will move to these soon.
Of course, when you attract wildlife you can’t pick which wildlife you attract and this cabbage white found the first flower to open on the clerodendrum.
There is so much talk about pollinators, bees and butterflies that I very naively was delighted to see these white butterflies earlier in the season near the brassica bed. I am somehow less enthusiastic now that I am hand picking caterpillars and spraying diluted fairy liquid to try to save Brussels sprouts and purple broccoli…
Ah, the lovely white butterflies! A bit like the pretty bright red lily beetles! I am glad you have started to wage war on them. I hope you win.