The na­ture of things

Clouded yel­low but­ter­fly

Country Life Every Week - - TOWN & COUNTRY NOTEBOOK - Edited by Vic­to­ria Marston

AMILD spring fol­lowed by a warm and gen­er­ally dry sum­mer, as we have had so far, is a great help to but­ter­flies, both the res­i­dent species and also mi­grants from oveseas. It al­ways seems in­cred­i­ble that a crea­ture so small and so del­i­cate as a but­ter­fly can find its way here from Mediter­ranean coun­tries, but they do. Some­times, with favourable pas­sage and ideal con­di­tions in their home­lands, they ap­pear here in great num­bers.

Painted-lady but­ter­flies and red ad­mi­rals do this from time to time, but the lat­ter, sup­ple­ment­ing res­i­dent stock, are not as eas­ily iden­ti­fied as ‘for­eign vis­i­tors’. An­other far less fa­mil­iar vis­i­tor is the clouded yel­low— no­tice­ably bright in flight and war­rant­ing closer in­spec­tion when they land.

They’re cau­tious and you must ap­proach by stealth to see the lemony-yel­low wings that, when spread out, are a much deeper yel­low— some­times near­ing or­ange—on the up­per­sides and margined with a thick band of black and a black spot near the cen­tre of the forewing.

Fe­males are fur­ther dec­o­rated with yel­low spots along the black edg­ing. These adults feed on the nec­tar of nu­mer­ous sum­mer flow­ers, in­clud­ing this­tles, knap­weeds, mar­jo­rams, rag­worts, scabi­ous, bud­dleja and lan­tana. Fe­males seek out mem­bers of the pea fam­ily for egg lay­ing, how­ever, the cater­pil­lars have a taste for al­falfa, red clover, nu­mer­ous vetches and tre­foils. KBH

Il­lus­tra­tion by Bill Dono­hoe

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