A mystery egg

Just a couple days ago I was on the search for overwintering eggs of the Black Hairstreak (Satyrium Pruni). While almost lying on the wet forest ground, hoping to spot the well hidden eggs of S. pruni, my eyes caught something else.

A rather large egg was laid on a short, dried-out branch of a young Bird Cherry (Prunus padus). I have recently come across other eggs as well, particularly such laid at buds of aspen. Generally, I don’t pay too much attention to keep focus on the species I’m looking for. However, this time the size of the egg awoke my interest.

Out of curiosity, I tried to get a decent close-up of the egg. With this photo I could try to get the species determined by hobby and expert lepidopterists in the Facebook group Butterflies and moths of Finland. My personal assumption was that is must be just another moth, and in case of raising moths I’m pretty picky.

A couple days after posting my question I got a hint by someone that the egg could be a High Brown Fritillary’s (Fabriciana adippe) or one of its close relatives. This raised my interest in heading out another time to pick the egg to rear the specimen, and get a complete determination by seeing larva and imago. I do have my doubts it may be something else, though. Nevertheless, if it truly was a High Brown Fritillary it would be the first time I’d have the pleasure to raise this butterfly.

The tricky part: like many species of Fritillaries also the caterpillar of the High Brown Fritillary feeds primarily on violas. The ovum itself was found on Bird Cherry. Providing the hatched caterpillar with violets as food plant will hopefully be the right choice. The egg itself was, as mentioned, laid on a dead branch of Bird Cherry. It was located only about 35 cm above ground. This location does to some part confirm that the egg was a Fritillary’s.

It will be a fun experiment to see and wait what eventually will hatch from the egg. Yet another time a good case example on how fascinating nature can be. In the gallery below some views on the habitat and location where the mystery egg was found.


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