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ShareMondays2020 – Spotting The Spotted

Silver-spotted skipper on hemp-agrimony

ShareMondays2020 – Spotting The Spotted

A breezy hour spent on a small patch of grassland on Box Hill looking for silver-spotted skippers last Thursday was definitely time well spent! One of the plentiful grasses on the hillside is sheep’s fescue, which is the sole food plant of the silver-spotted skippers’ caterpillars. It is also a food plant of meadow brown, gatekeeper and small heath caterpillars, all of which are numerous on the hillside!

Small Heath

I also saw a number of six-spotted burnet moths and I couldn’t resist them! They’re one of over a hundred day-flying moths in the UK, many of these are micro moths and I struggle to name them. Burnets are so recognisable and, like me, are attracted to the colour purple! It’s a good thing that the hillside is a patchwork of purples still.

Look closely for the tiny crab spider on this macro image!
Knapweed is a wonderful wildflower for many pollinators and the burnet moths love it!

I spotted at least six silver-spotted skippers on the hillside which is the most I’ve ever seen in one visit! When they’re perched up on a flower or grass stem they’re pretty easy to find with those white spots against the gold wings. It’s a different story when they’re basking on the ground! They really do blend into the habitat well.

Spot the skipper!

One of the skippers had a close call with a crab spider that was blending into it’s own surroundings on a knapweed flower! I probably wouldn’t have seen the spider if the skipper hadn’t lifted off so suddenly. They’re ambush predators and cleverly disguise themselves while they wait for a potential meal.

A near miss!

I would have loved to have captured a perfect shot of a silver-spotted skipper on field scabious. What a perfect combination! Unfortunately it was so breezy the butterflies were having a hard time staying on top of the delicate blooms. The closest I got to my ideal image was this one below, which I am being picky about as there’s a shadow falling across the skipper from another stem. Still a beautiful sight though and I can aspire to capturing my perfect shot one day in the future as we continue to protect this precious habitat and the treasures that live there.

Silver-spotted skipper on field scabious
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ShareMondays2020 – Nymph

Marbled White Macro

ShareMondays2020 – Nymph

What’s in a name? Melangaria galathea, the marbled white, sometimes called the half-mourner or chequered white, is actually a member of the Browns family. They are Satyrinae, a subfamily of the Nymphalidae, brush-footed butterflies. When Carl Linnaeus originally assigned names to the butterflies he had identified, he placed them into families and genus with distinctively Greek and Roman mythological origins. I love thinking of these beautiful insects as nymphs, sylphs and satyrs! It’s so very appropriate.

Marbled White showing mites on body

The name galathea most likely comes from the Nereid, Galatea. One of fifty sea-nymphs of Greek mythology, daughters of Nereus (son of Gaia) and Doris the sea goddess. Galatea means she who is milk-white. The name was also given to the statue of woman by Pygmalion of Cyprus, who came to life in Greek mythology. When roosting, these beautiful butterflies are most certainly statuesque! They are usually found on moist, chalky ground in southern England, were they can gather in large numbers in July. It really is an amazing sight! Another amazing fact about the marbled white is that they are drawn to purple flowers, usually seen feeding on wild oregano, knapweed and thistles.

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#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Myths And Moths

Six Spot Burnet

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Myths And Moths

Myths And Moths

It’s a myth that moths
Only ever fly at night
Colour loves daylight

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#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Box Hill Butterflies

Box Hill Butterflies

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Box Hill Butterflies

Box Hill Butterflies

When my mind wanders
It drifts away to memories
Lost in childhood dreams

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#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Skipper

Large Skipper

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – Skipper

Skipper

Skipping through meadows
Golden sprites alight in sight
Wide-eyed with wonder

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#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – The Watcher

The Watcher

#FeelGoodPhotoOfTheDay – The Watcher

The Watcher

Half-mourner morning
Rising up through the knapweed
Watching the watcher

I came across these records by apothecary, botanist and entomologist, James Petiver, while researching the name of the marbled white. I thought they might be of interest! (ref: http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org)

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