Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Butterflies in April

(Originally published April 7, 2012) Well I’m finally getting to this blog, I had intended to have a number of posts here by now, but that’s life I guess. As its now spring the insects have began to return to the city. Specifically I have been looking at bumblebees and butterflies and trying to photograph the various species that have now taken to the air. Today I’ll show you my first butterflies of summer 2012. With any luck at all it’s only the beginning.

This is a small white (Pieris rapae), one of a number of white butterfly species. I spotted this individual and 4 others in Ballycotton last week out on the cliffwalk. Soon this species will be everywhere. It was great to see it again since the butterflies disappeared around October last year.

This peacock butterfly (Inachis io) was seen in the Fota gardens, little island last week. It’s a great looking butterfly and also coincidently one of Ireland’s most common species. Note its brown camouflage with wings closed making it almost invisible when on a tree or on leaf litter which stands in stark contrast to its vivid red wing patters and false eyes when open. I don’t quite remember the specifics but this presumably is designed to startle would be predators and confuse them as to where to bite, attacking the false eyes allows for escape. This individual started vibrating when I approached it which I took to be either its attempt to lure a nearby mate or a threatening display towards me, based on my books it seems to be the latter. I have never witnessed them doing this before!

The third and by far most common species currently I have seen recently is the small tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae) which is similar in size to the peacock but less bold. It is this species that one usually finds hibernating in houses. I quite like the blue rims on this species. The first individual below seems a bit worse for wear but the second one shows off some of this butterflies beauty a bit more.

I have already seen glimpses of holly blues and orange tips around the city. These two species are top of my list of species to photograph this month.

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