Heather Farm, a wetlands centre and SANG (Suitable Alternative Green Space) on Horsell Common, was absolutely brimming with butterflies after my return from Kos last week! What an absolute joy to behold. This small skipper was one of the few resting in the shade on a warm and sunny day. The lighting really lent itself to a more muted and soft image of this delightful little butterfly. I felt that it was quite perfect to show off the features of the skipper that I am so drawn to! Those huge eyes and furry face are quite simply adorable. It was very hard to leave our beloved Kos, but I did feel welcomed back by these beautiful butterflies!
The beauty is a common blue butterfly, a real favourite of mine! The beast in question is an Ichneumonid wasp. They are parasitoids, meaning that their larvae infect and feed on other invertebrates, eventually killing the host. I think this particular wasp is Apechthis compunctor, which lays its’ eggs in the pupae of butterflies. The adult often emerges from the butterfly itself. No small wonder that I would see them at NT Denbies Hillside, amidst the wonderful array of blue and copper butterflies that were on the wing. I can’t be 100% on my ID as these insects aren’t a specialist knowledge of mine, also there are well over 2000 species of ichneumonids in the UK! Watching this wasp actually fly right up to the common blue that I was photographing was fascinating, even though it gave me the creeps. I just kept photographing, hoping that I could capture a shot that told a story of the interrelationship between invertebrate species. This has to be my story and photograph of the week, even if there is an undercurrent of horror about it! Ecology is all about the interrelationships within specific ecosystems. Every time I get to watch something like this I learn more.
There were so many small copper and common blue butterflies still on the wing last week at Heather Farm Wetlands Centre, a part of Horsell Common. They’re not hard to find either, you just have to look around the clumps of this yellow flowering plant, called common fleabane. It’s been practically blooming butterflies throughout the season! Can’t resist putting this in for this week’s WexMondays challenge. Lovely to be out chasing so many butterflies in the middle of September!
The recent rains have brought green back to the slopes of Box Hill, along with a wealth of wildflowers! It was rather lovely to watch these male (left) and female (right) common blue butterflies courting each other upon the wild marjoram flower buds. Sadly their dance of love never reached it’s conclusion as the courting couple were rudely interrupted by a busy bee!
This was the first common blue butterfly that I found this season. Late and few in numbers! It’s a worrying year for many of our insects after the late wintry weather. To make matters worse grassland, verges, parks and gardens are being cut back far too early and too frequently. There’s absolutely no need for this cutting, there’s a very important need for grasses and wildflowers. My dear friend Lou always understood the importance of letting the grasses grow and flowers bloom. The little garden that I shared with her as her lodger was a haven for wildlife. Dear Lou was terrified of frogs though, which were numerous around the garden pond! Her cat, Smudge, regularly brought frogs into the house as a gift 😂 I often came to the rescue after one of these presentations, rescuing Lou, that is, from the poor little amphibians! I still miss Lou so much but, as ever, she is still with me in my heart and memories. She used to laugh at me chasing butterflies around! She would be very amused watching me over here in Kos chasing blues and coppers around the ancient ruins. She loved coming to the Greek Islands herself so I always feel close to her here. Today is her birthday and my little blue is dedicated to her life, spirit, energy and compassion. In many cultures around the world butterflies, particularly blues, are revered as the returning spirit of a departed loved one. Save butterflies and save souls 💙