Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Is Brown the new Blue?

After a miserable morning the warm sun this afternoon enticed me on to the tramway at Langdon.

The area is very sheltered in the Common Spotted Orchids there seemed a few days ahead of others I have seen in the last couple of days. There are a lot just coming into bloom,with a few more or less fully out.

One of the specialities of the chalk grasslands around here is the Little or Small Blue (Cupido minimus). The sexes are similar in appearance, although the males is blacker with a dusting of blue scales and the female somewhat browner.

The underside is a silvery grey colour and is quite similar to a Holly Blue. A species that is confined to grasslands on calcareous soils where the larvae find their food plant Kidney Vetch. As soon as they are hatched the young caterpillars bury themselves in the flower heads where they feed on the seeds.

As the name suggests this is a small butterfly, and with a wingspan as little as 16mm is the smallest on the British List.

As well as the butterflies, that included Adonis and Common Blues, Wall, Small White and Meadow Brown there were also several day flying moths. Among these was the very attractive Burnet Companion, although there are no Burnets yet for it to keep company with.
Another Common Spotted Orchid. It is a shame that the English language has come to equate common with vulgar. I suppose in the case of the Common Starling ( Sturnus Vulgaris) some people may feel that it is justified, but there is nothing vulgar about this orchid. As a common man I with Aaron Copeland, common deserves a fanfare.

Another of the dayflying moths is the Silver Y, although this one is a visitor from the continent and an annual migrant in varying numbers. It is the warmer weather that has brought it here and there were several in the grass along the cliffs. In some years they arrive in their thousands. The "Silver Y" motif is evident on the moth above.

1 comment:

Susan said...

My Burnet Companions are enjoying keeping company with the flowering lucerne / alfalfa in the orchard while they wait for the burnet. The Small Blues like it too. The plants are volunteers from the haymeadow next door which I've allowed to grow up and flower. I'm pleased I did, as the flowers attract many species.