Butterflies go house hunting
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.
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For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust go to cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.
Red admiral in bedroom