Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The number of small tortoiseshell butterflies has declined nationally by 75% since the 1970s but August has brought good sightings in local lanes, particularly on thistles. They can also be seen flocking around buddleias and sedums in gardens. Small tortoiseshells live through the winter as butterflies and often enter houses to seek refuge. 
The wings of Speckled Wood butterflies are an ideal camouflage in the dappled areas of woodland margins. The Speckled Wood would not have been seen in this area 20 or so years ago: it has gradually extended its range northwards since the 1980s. The males are highly territorial and will defend their positions in brambly sunny glades if other butterflies encroach. A few Speckleds have been on the wing in Spring Crag Wood this month (August). 
Probably our most glamorous butterfly, the peacock scares off predators with its distinctive eye spots. Peacocks live and breed in patches of stinging nettles, and in late summer and autumn can be seen feeding on buddleias, sedums and rotting fruit. This peacock in a local garden has lost one of its two antennae, the organs of smell.