Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Fragrant Orchid and friends

Steve Coates from Kingsdown has started a new blog, Kingsdowner which features some attractive natural history pictures, mainly from the Kingsdown area. One of his pictures was of a Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) at Otty Bottom.

As I can get there on my bike, without pedalling after the first 50 yards, I thought I'd take a look. There were quite a few by the side of the road and despite the windy conditions, which is always a nuisance when taking flower pictures, I took a few photos.

This is a close up and shows the long, slender spur at the back of each flower. It isn't the most spectacular of our orchids but it has a sweet but slightly acidic fragrance that attracts pollinators. As the spur is long to reach the nectar the insect has to have a long proboscis, and include some butterflies and day flying moths, although night flying moths may be more important as the scent is stronger at night.

Six-spot Burnets (Zygaena filipendulae) is one of the day flying moths that might pollinate the Fragrant Orchids.

This battered individual has caused me an ID problem. When I saw it I decided it was a tatty female Common Blue butterfly. When I looked at the picture I thought I might be an equally tatty Brown Argus butterfly, but looking at it on the screen now I think I was right first time. Any expert lepidopterists out there who can give me an ID? By the way, I had to pedal up hill and into the wind all the way back!

1 comment:

Steve said...

Glad you found the orchids -

re the butterfly it seems identical (apart from which pieces have been bitten out of its' wings) to one on my blog, which also puzzled me.

Looking again, it could well be a Brown Argus - the black mark on the upper forewings is clearer than on a Common Blue, and the edge markings would be bluer on a CB.