Wednesday, 15 July 2015

White-letter Hairstreak

The trip to Scotland had revived my interest in Butterflies and with a warm sunny afternoon promised I picked Dave up and we headed over to Holingbury Park to look for the White-letter Hairstreaks. We had seen a few there in previous years and they seem to be more inclined to come down and nectar on the brambles and thistles than at other sites we have visited.

White-letter Hairstreak

Conditions were good for taking photographs but I could still have done with a bit more light and a bit less wind. Its just a bit annoying when the wind blows and the butterfly drifts out of focus and often out of the frame, just as you are about to press the shutter.

Still, there were some good opportunities on offer today.

Male White-letter Hairstreak

Most of the pictures here today are of females. The female being best identified by having longer tails than the males.

Photobomed by a fly - which usually results in the butterfly taking flight

The White-letter Hairstreak spends most of its time in the tops of trees feeding on honeydew. Often you can see them flying but they will not come down. However, if you do get them at ground level they are an easy butterfly to photograph. They will stay on the same flower nectaring for long periods, often an hour or more, and they are not easily spooked by people or by large cameras being positioned only a few inches from them.

The butterfly always settles with its wings closed so there are no open wing shots.

The caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of Elm trees and the population suffered a major setback when Dutch Elm disease wiped out most of the Elms in this country. However, it seems to be making a comeback and is gradually extending its range.

There were a few other butterflies about but none of them were in particularly good condition. This Comma seemed worth recording



and these Harlequin Ladybird Larvae were amongst hundreds feeding on blackfly that had infested this Burdock plant.

Harlequin Ladybird Larvae

I think I see a new challenge here. I will have to photograph the larvae of all the different Ladybirds we have in this country.

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