But­ter­flies go house hunt­ing

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

THERE was much ex­cite­ment in our house this week when a but­ter­fly flew in through the win­dow and set­tled close to the warm ra­di­a­tor.

This was a very clever but­ter­fly as we had lit­er­ally had the cen­tral heat­ing fixed an hour ear­lier by the nice man from Bri­tish Gas.

It’s not a sur­prise to see a small tor­toise­shell fly­ing in through your win­dow be­cause they are likely to be look­ing for some­where to hi­ber­nate through win­ter. And it came about a week af­ter a red ad­mi­ral flut­tered into the back bed­room.

Small tor­toise­shells, red ad­mi­rals and, also, pea­cocks hi­ber­nate in­side build­ings un­til the warmer days of spring. They will gen­er­ally set­tle down with their wings to­gether and wait for warmer days.

You can eas­ily move the in­sect by slip­ping a fin­ger un­der­neath and putting it some­where more con­ve­nient - al­ways ap­proach from the head end to pre­vent dam­ag­ing its legs.

It may fly around on hot days so make sure you have some wa­tered-down honey and wet some cot­ton wool, so it can feed.

Our but­ter­flies both flew away and out of the win­dow, hope­fully to find some­where else to hi­ber­nate. There are plenty of places nearby so they should be OK.

The small tor­toise­shell is medium-sized, though ours seemed to be quite a large one with its wings stretched out. You may spot one on many of the but­ter­fly-friendly plants you have in your gar­den.

Cater­pil­lars love net­tles, so al­ways have a lovely net­tle patch in there too.

This used to be our most com­mon but­ter­fly but num­bers have de­clined in many ar­eas be­cause of wet sum­mers and the ar­rival of a nasty lit­tle pest that eats tor­toise­shell cater­pil­lars.

The small tor­toise­shell is a won­der­ful or­ange colour, with black and yel­low mark­ings on the forewings and a ring of blue spots around the edge of the wings.

But­ter­flies do perk up on warm win­ter days and can be seen fly­ing around out­side, so don’t be sur­prised to see one at the end of De­cem­ber or on New Year’s Day, if the con­di­tions are balmy. Gen­er­ally your adult but­ter­fly will emerge from hi­ber­na­tion in spring look­ing for a mate. Un­til then they will be snug­gled up in a shel­tered spot.

Our win­dows are open quite a lot dur­ing win­ter so I wouldn’t be sur­prised to see a cou­ple more vis­i­tors.

To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to the web­site at www.lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust. org.uk.

Red ad­mi­ral in bed­room

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