Saturday, 17 October 2009

Speckled Wood (Pararga aegeria)

Image from Copyright Free Photos

A butterfly of woodland glades, as its name implies, but also found along hedgerows and country lanes.

And this is where I caught sight of it. If I had been walking down this road twenty years ago it would have not seemed possible, its habitat was southern England, Wales and into the midlands. It disappeared early in the 20th century from the north. In the 1990s one was seen in a wood near Witherslack, some people think that they was deliberately introduced, but cannot say by who. I like to think they made their own way here. They like slightly damp areas so Cumbria certainly fulfills that requirement. Since that first sighting they have spread right through Furness and the Morecambe Bay estuary and are still heading north.

It is unique amongst our butterflies because it can overwinter in two totally separated stages either as a chrysalis or a caterpillar, a trait that can, in the southern part of the range, give rise to three overlapping broods on the wing from the end of March to mid October.
Here is the image I took amongst the autumn leaves (right hand corner). If I had been carrying a set of stepladders with me it might have been a better photograph. This particular butterfly was taking in yet another warm sunny day near the top of a hedge. As you can see it is a paler colour than the photograph at the top of the page. There are two types of males and the lighter coloured ones are territorial, chasing and intercepting intruders onto their territory.

Here's hoping for lots more warm sunny days because in a good year they can last longer than mid October, and who does not want to see more butterflies.

The Cumbrian Wildlife website has more information on their occupation of the area.

1 comment:

~JarieLyn~ said...

The top photo is a great shot. These butterflies are gorgeous and that country lane is mighty picturesque.