JERSEY TIGER MOTHS IN FRANCE & ENGLAND


Jersey Tiger Moths  Euplagia quadripunctaria, are widely distributed throughout Europe. Once rare in Britain, they are now increasingly found in the South of England. Recently we spotted one in the eastern Pyrenees one evening. It wasn’t very close and I had only a small camera with me so the results aren’t startling. However, the photos give a fair idea of this very pretty moth. 

Jersey Tiger Moth, Ceret, FranceJersey Tiger Moth, Ceret, France

I knew at once what sort of moth this was, because we had found one – the only one I’ve ever seen before – in our garden in Dorset last year, and I to go through the usual online process to ID it.

jersey-tiger-moth-dorset-3-copy

A more professional photo… (Wiki)ecaille_chinee_-_euplagia_quadripunctaria_havre_begique_3

The Wrong Sort of Tiger Moth… “CHOCKS AWAY”tiger-moth-1-copy

TWO-TAILED PASHAS & FOXY EMPEROR BUTTERFLIES


two-tailed-pasha-ceret-pyrenees-3

We were sitting having a picnic on the low wall surrounding a small hilltop church in the eastern Pyrenees, when I caught sight of this wonderful creature. A marital ‘no computer’ pact and limited wifi possibilities for a phone meant that ID was frustratingly delayed.

two-tailed-pasha-ceret-pyrenees-4

This butterfly turns out to have the wonderful names Two-tailed Pasha or Foxy Emperor (Charaxes jasius).  Frankly either name is exotic enough to stick in the mind, but I think I prefer the Pasha. Because the creature was on a tree beyond the parapet, there was no chance I could get near enough for a close-up, so I had to resort to zooming in at various angles and magnifications, and hoping for the best.

two-tailed-pasha-ceret-pyrenees-1

I kept hoping the butterfly would move without going to the extreme of flying away. An open wing shot would have been great to get, but it was not to be. Here’s what the upper wings look like. Having found the image, I realised at once that we saw one or two of the same species on the wing elsewhere, but they were too busy to pause for a photograph.

two-tailed-pasha-charaxes-jasius-genoa-hectonichus-wiki

These are butterflies of Africa, but they are also found on the southern fringes of mediterranean Europe. Apparently they like maquis-type scrub country or (clearly) the similar garrigue terrain where we were. They also like some height, although we were only about 1500 ft ASL.

two-tailed-pasha-ceret-pyrenees-2

PAINTED LADY BUTTERFLIES IN DORSET: FIRST SIGHTING


Midsummer’s Day is usually the first day I begin to notice painted lady butterflies in our Dorset garden. They have probably been around for a few days before then without my noticing them. So when I actually start to look out for them to test the robustness of my ‘Midsummer’s Day’ theory for the ‘first’ ones, I am in fact working with a flawed self-fulfilling hypothesis. It worked again this year, as usual… And as so often these days I only had an iPh@ne with me to record the success, with unspectacular but tolerable results.

PAINTED LADY, DORSET 1PAINTED LADY, DORSET 5PAINTED LADY, DORSET 4PAINTED LADY, DORSET 3PAINTED LADY, DORSET 2

I was hoping to get an underwing shot, but no luck. So I have plundered Wiki to get one

Painted Lady Butterfly underwings (wiki)

All photo except the last, RH with an iPhone

ORANGE TIP BUTTERFLY, DORSET


There’s a time and place for resorting to an iPhone for close shots. The time is when your camera is not handy – possibly 3 or 4 counties away; the place is where you are right now, when an orange tip – so often a skittish species – decides to choose a plant to land on and to stay there for a while.Orange Tip Butterfly, Dorset 3

The technique for getting reasonably sharp pictures with an iPhone is this: take 20 – 30 rapid shots of the subject, holding the phone at varying distances from it until you get too close and the creature flies away. This specialist process is necessary because it is impossible to be sure what the camera has actually focused on and what the optimum distance for the shot actually is. This may be a question of distance, angle or lighting – or any combination. These were the best of them – but I also got some great detailed shots of the flowers and their stems, with the butterfly a smear of orange and white.

Orange Tip Butterfly, Dorset 4

These images are never going to make the grade in the aggressively contested photograph section of the village art and craft show (unless there’s a special iPhone group, perhaps). But they are better than I was expecting, with reasonably sharp ‘buds’, as I think the blobs on the end of the feelers are called. That’s the first thing I look at when deleting butterfly photos…
Orange Tip Butterfly, Dorset 1

COMMON BLUE BUTTERFLY, DORSET


These exceptionally pretty little butterflies were prolific in the garden in late July and early August. However an autumnal chill arrived around the 18th. A few remained, but I saw only one or two last week. 

Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 1Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 2 Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 3 Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 4 Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 5 Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 6

SKIPPERS (NON-NAUTICAL) IN DORSET


Two skippers taken recently in Dorset, before the rains came. Then, as the rain has poured over the garden, so I have pored over my ‘Dummy’s Guide to Lepidoptera’ to work out what type of skipper this is. Or should I say, ‘these are’, because although the photos are not particularly good, these two creatures look different to me. But that could just be the angle of the “sun”, whatever that was.  Any hints from those kind enough to glance at this woefully under-curated ‘side-project’ blog would be welcome!

STOP PRESS Mike Kelly has been kind enough to leave this comment about these two skipper species:  the first one  “…COULD be Essex Skipper, the antenna tips are not clear enough to be certain. The 3 below are Small Skipper”.

Skipper Butterfly, Dorset Skipper Butterfly, Dorset Skipper Butterfly, Dorset

The same type of skipper? Or another, maybe? [PS A Small Skipper – see above]

Skipper Butterfly, DorsetSkipper Butterfly, Dorset Skipper Butterfly, Dorset

SUMMER WHITES: BUTTERFLIES IN DORSET


Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, Dorset

FIRE & BRIMSTONE: BEANS & BUTTERFLIES IN DORSET


It’s high summer in the garden. That means beans. Beans does not mean Heinz in garden terms. Beans means butterflies, in this case a brimstone feeding on the bright fiery runner bean flowers. This female is a pale greeny yellow; males are a more striking bright yellow.

Brimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, Dorset Brimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, Dorset Brimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, DorsetBrimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, DorsetBrimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, Dorset

GATEKEEPER BUTTERFLIES ARE BACK


This is the first Gatekeeper I have seen this year. We have had an unusually prolific season for meadow browns over the last few weeks, which in ‘closed wing’ position I find easy to confuse with gatekeepers, unless I can see the wing spots clearly. But this one was obligingly drying its wings – they are very undamaged so I assume it is a very recent arrival (in butterfly form, anyway), maybe even today. Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset

Now I’ve seen the first, I’m hoping to see them everywhere…Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 11b Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 5 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 1

DORSET BUTTERFLIES FOR EASTER


Easter Monday sunshine after 3 drizzly overcast days. Suddenly the garden is full of birds, bees and butterflies. We have had indoor butterflies right through the winter – all tortoiseshells. They have to be guided gently to an open window. If we haven’t been around for a while, it’s a sadder result. Where on earth have they been coming from? The house may be old, but it is by and large weatherproof and butterflyproof, so they must be emerging in the house… 

In the garden we saw plenty of peacocks and tortoiseshells, and several large whites and brimstones. I had a short time to try out a new camera – an alien thing with changeable lenses, a bossy screen, strange settings, too many choices, a mind of its own and an ignorant owner. I deleted almost all the photos, but these just about survived the cut. But they are poor, and nowhere near what can be achieved with my previous camera (which I have kept). But just as I was about to blame my tools and indeed condemn them utterly for incompetence, I realised that the problem is not in fact with the camera at all. Damn. I’ve got to trawl through the 756 page manual again… It’s all my fault!Tortoiseshell Butterfly Dorset 3Tortoiseshell Butterfly Dorset 4Tortoiseshell Butterfly Dorset 2Tortoiseshell Butterfly Dorset 1

Even the peacock photos that I had high hopes of were rubbish. This is the dodgy best. Next time out, all will be well… Peacock Butterfly Dorset 1