Green beauty

Some species rarely stand still. This makes it extremely difficult to catch their beauty with the camera, or even with the eye. Hairstreaks are such species. In case of the Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) most people probably don’t realize when a butterfly is flying by. They’re simply too quick and too small. It’s difficult to get a decent shot of the species. They also rapidly loose the colors and shimmer on their fragile wings.

After raising a Green Hairstreak from egg to adult, I finally got a moment to make some photos of a specimen that was resting. Here’s a glimpse of green beauty.

Raising the Green Hairstreak

End of May 2015 I spent one Saturday searching for caterpillars of the Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia). I found none. Nevertheless, on the search I bumped into a forest completely covered by growth of Lingonberry and Blueberry. Green Hairstreak butterflies (Callophrys rubi) were enjoying the warm sun.

The Green Hairstreak is one of the most common butterflies in Finland. Tracking down caterpillars, however, is not that easy. After one of the Hairstreaks took a quick rest on a branch of Lingonberry I couldn’t resist turning the leafs upside down. There is was, a single but clean white dot. A fresh egg.

Raising that egg has provided me a lot of joy during summer. I kept the caterpillar on potted Lingonberry. While the plant was on blossom, the caterpillar enjoyed its feast. The butterfly will hatch in late spring 2016.

Edit (March 20, 2016): Added photos of the hatched butterfly

Nervous company

Finally, after two weeks of gray and rainy weather the sun came back, timed well for the weekend. Even though I spent a couple hours in the greenery on Saturday and Sunday I wasn’t able to sight any new species. Furthermore, I still couldn’t spot any individuals of the Map (Araschnia levana) which was clearly one of my targets.

Compared to the earlier trips this spring there was one major difference. All butterflies, regardless of their species, were very active. They appeared to be nervous and mostly didn’t stop by on flowers at all. Feeding did not have priority. All focus was clearly on finding a late mate for pairing. This made it also very difficult to get any butterflies with the camera.

The Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) was one of the most common species this weekend. Even though I counted over a dozen individuals (once three male at the same time) they just didn’t rest. One female, which I didn’t get sharp on a photo, was the only one which actually stopped on some flowers. I checked where she landed afterwards to make sure she wasn’t laying eggs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any. Most likely it hadn’t copulated yet.

I guess I need another trip to make some new sightings. Good luck soon many more species will be around.

Just to wrap up the weekend here’s some data:

Location: Espoo Central Park, Finland. Weather: Sat 17 decrees Celsius, Sun 21 degrees

Sighted species:

  • Scarce Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis xanthomelas), 2 individuals
  • Moarning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), 1 indvidual
  • Comma (Polygonia c-album), 2 individuals
  • Common Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), 10+ individuals
  • Green-veined White (Pieris napi), 10+ individuals
  • Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines), 10+ individuals
  • Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi), 10+ individuals
  • Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), 3 individuals



Early Orange Tip

Today’s true surprise was the Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) which came out of the blue. Just a moment earlier I thought I’d have spotted my first Map (Araschnia levana) this spring, no confirmation on that sighting though.

I was browsing through a field when one of my all-time favorites flew by, right towards me. In case of this species Orange Tip is the perfectly matching name. However, worth being mentioned, it’s only the male which actually carries orange on its wings. Females are plain white.

I had to wait for quite some time before the butterfly took a rest from flying. My luck that it decided on a spot which was easily accessible. No doubt, since I got some ok shots this is one of this season’s highlights.

Nevertheless, the Orange Tip was not the only species around. Also flying, for the first time this spring, were the Green-veined White (Pieris napi) and masses of Green Hairstreaks (Callophrys rubi). I’ve actually never met this little green pearls before. While flying it’s hardly to recognize them and they appear just like a buzzing insect. However, once landed they look like green jewels.