Busy days

Late June we had to pack and clean. Since we were moving end of the month there were countless things to take care off. Unfortunately, the day before moving also the Purple emperors (Apatura iris) started to hatch. The caterpillars of this beautiful species were collected earlier in spring (one was found in December).

I was able to witness two butterflies hatching, the other chrysalises I had to hand out to my friend. This way I did not need to think of butterflies in the middle of our move. One of the butterflies felt disturbed as I tried to get some photos. It started to try to fly with cold wings and caused some damage to itself (so much for getting shots of a perfect specimen). The other butterfly I allowed to develop in all peace, and I only tried getting some photos of the under side of the wings.

Blue Shimmer

Lesser Purple Emperor (Apatura ilia)

Purple emperors, regardless of the species, are equally amazing. The blue shimmer on their wings when the light hits from the right direction is something that cannot be explained. Note thought, it’s only the male butterflies that have the purple and blue colors. So if you see those colors, you’ll also know the gender of the specimen you’re looking at.

Summer 2015 was the moment when I finally sighted my first purple emperor, or actually, quite many of them. All back then were Lesser Purple Emperors (Apatura ilia). This was definitely a moment I was looking for already back as a small kid. There’s still much ahead. Raising caterpillars will be the next target.

Blue’n orange

There’s a particular moment after midsummer when various species of the Blues and Fritillaries hatch. During those days it feels like almost all butterflies around carry blue or orange shades. It’s also one of the most difficult times to properly identify sighted species. Please drop me a not in case I’ve misidentified any of the creatures listed below.

After the rain comes the sun

After 4 weeks of poor weather (including pouring rain and temperatures as low as 4 decrees Celsius right before Midsummer) the sun woke up again. Initially I hit the greenery to search for caterpillars of the Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa). However, seeing all the butterflies flying around I completely lost focus.

Here’s some of the shots I got. It was lots of Fritillaries and Blues and I’m not good in identifying all those species. Forgive me if I’m wrong on some of my definitions, or if I just leave the species open.

Butterfly romance

The dancing flight and flirting game of two butterflies is something unique. Personally, I haven’t had the luck to observe too many of these moments so far. However, recently I caught one of these private events.

A warm spring day made the butterflies go crazy, aiming at fulfilling the one and only mission in their lives: to continue the species. Especially the Common Brimstones (Gonepteryx rhamni) were very active. While I was close to a female, a male was flying by. Attracted either by the sight or the female’s pheromones, the dalliance begun.

Unfortunately, I did not see final “the magic happen”. There was no copula as a second male Brimstone interrupted the game. The female clearly was ready, and most likely the game continued after I left for other butterflies around.

All in all, a very special moment. And luckily, there’s a couple photos for looking back and sharing.


Beauty and the dumpster

European Peacock (Inachis io) feeding on Melancholy Thistle

A photo may not tell the complete truth. Sure, the photos featured in this post don’t lie about the beauty of some of our most common butterflies. However, photos don’t transmit odors.

A small spot of flowers was right next to a leaking dumpster. What our nose may not appreciate can, on the other hand, be highly attractive to someone else. While European Peacocks (Inachis io), Small Tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae)  and a Common Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) where after the flowers, the Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) only showed interest in the fluid which leaked out the dumpster.

A moment that definitely stunk, but which was compensated by beauty.

Did you know…

Not all butterflies show interest in flowers and nectar. Some species, e.g. the Poplar Admiral, feed on feces, cadavers of animals, rotten fruits or even human sweat.

Source: Wikipedia (January 9, 2014)

Related photos

Hello world!

The interest in butterflies comes with a variety of benefits. Let me introduce one which probably wouldn’t come to your mind. This post features Noel, one of our twin boys, at the age of approximately 2 weeks. The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) hatched only moments before taking the image.

A couple days before our twins were born I took another walk to the horse stable nearby. I got slightly off track, following a butterfly which I tried to photograph. Reaching high nettles in the middle of a field, I wanted to have a closer look.

First, I spotted a rolled leaf. This is mostly a sign that an insect or spider has built a primitive shelter. In this case, it was a small caterpillar of the Red Admiral. Browsing further through the nettles, I came across many large caterpillars of the same species. Since they were close to entering the stage of pupa, I collected them. I knew butterflies will hatch only a couple weeks later, and wanted to share this miracle with our daughter.

Raising caterpillars needs dedication, though. After our boys were born I had to collect some stuff for my wife from home. On the same trip, I also had to pick fresh nettles for the caterpillars.

The bonus of all the care-taking are the photos one can shoot with “fresh” butterflies. Butterfly raising offers a special moment once an individual hatches. Before being capable of flying the insect first needs to dry its wings.

Take your time to have a close look during this time frame. The butterfly won’t fly away. It’s also the moment for taking a proper macro shot without the rush. Or stage a shot, as depicted in the photo series below.

Please keep the fragility of butterflies in mind. The slightest touch on its wings will result in permanent damage. Place your finger in front of the insect, and allow it to walk on it. Place your finger to the desired spot and allow the “accessory” to take position on its own.

Did you know…

The Red Admiral is a migrating species. If flies from north Africa and southern Europe to Finland in spring for breeding. In autumn, the adults of the next generation head south again as they have not yet learned overwintering in Scandinavia.

Source: Wikipedia (January 9, 2014)

Related photos