Between the autumn showers a few of Fingle’s butterflies are appearing and feeding on the last of the summer nectar sources. As the flowers and food plants are all fading the activity of the butterflies is slowing down in preparation for colder months ahead. Each species of butterfly has their own way to get through the winter and a variety of methods is used by those in flight this week.
During a short September walk in the woods a few speckled wood butterflies were dancing in spirals, a small copper was dashing frantically about, a small white was flitting around the bracken and a red admiral showed a splash of autumn colour.
The small white will spend the winter as a pupa, fixed to the stem of a plant while the small copper is most likely to be in larval form (caterpillar) feeding on sorrel leaves.
Though some red admirals may appear fleetingly on a mild winter day, most of them will migrate south to warmer parts of Europe before they return in spring.
It’s not only the butterflies that are searching for every last drop of nectar. The bumble bees are out there too, building up their stores for tough times ahead.
by Matt Parkins