30 Days Wild – Day 7

Taking the time to watch nature, rather than simply notice it and keep on walking, is an immensely rewarding experience. There is much information available on so many species, but sometimes it is fun to find things out for yourself instead. For example, you can read up on the flowers which different species of butterfly like to visit, or you can spend a while watching and let the butterfly show you!

Orange tip making a bee-line (or should that be a butterfly-line) for the Dame’s violet flowers

The sunny weather brought out common blues, peacocks, small whites, orange tips and brimstones on a brief visit to the Viking Way nature reserve this lunchtime. The small blue investigated lots of yellow flowers, such as dandelions and yellow rattle, but never settled until it found a yellow bird’s foot trefoil where it then worked its way from flower to flower. Similarly the orange tip bounced between the white-flowered cow parsley until it reached the mauve dame’s violet flowers where it sunk deep to drink the nectar.

Orange-tip butterfly drinking deep from the dame’s violet flowers

If you do have a little time in the sunshine, I would highly recommend spending some time following a butterfly from plant to plant and you will soon learn its preferences. In some cases this seems to be related to the larval food plant – orange tip caterpillars feed on cabbage family (Cruciferae) species whilst common blues primarily use bird’s foot trefoil and the imago (adult butterflies) of both species seem to exhibit a preference for foraging on the flowers of these same species. However other butterflies are much more generalist as adults such as the comma’s and peacock’s which seem to follow the best nectar sources whilst their caterpillars develop on nettle.

Common blue butterfly feeding on bird’s foot trefoil