Name does not tell the whole story

Accrington Observer - - WILDLIFE - ALAN WRIGHT To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to www.lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129

WE have just re­ceived a won­der­ful video show­ing our work around the re­gion, which will be on the web­site in the com­ing weeks.

And there was I stand­ing with my cam­era on War­ton Crag, that mag­nif­i­cent rock overlooking More­cambe Bay. For­tu­nately, there is only a flash of me, any more might put peo­ple off.

Any­way, it brought lovely mem­o­ries of that day on the rock, as I spent most of the time tak­ing pic­tures of but­ter­flies.

War­ton Crag is renowned for the flut­ter­ers, mainly del­i­cate frit­il­lar­ies, the high brown be­ing a rare one. The Wildlife Trust has cre­ated ‘rides’ on the lime­stone tops, which are open path­ways for the but­ter­flies to wan­der along and back again.

My favourite was a medium-sized brown but­ter­fly that sim­ply sat on the rock and posed for min­utes on end. My lens was al­most touch­ing this in­sect, but it was more in­ter­ested in the sun­shine.

I was hop­ing that this would be one of our rare frit­il­lar­ies or a lesserspot­ted, pink-rimmed, red-tipped some­thing or other. How­ever, this was iden­ti­fied as “Oh it’s a wall.”

Yes, the wall brown is a but­ter­fly, with a less-thanin­spir­ing name. It is one of the “brown” but­ter­flies. I mean let’s find a way to dis­suade peo­ple from get­ting in­volved in wildlife. Let’s find a name that isn’t ex­actly rock ‘n’ roll.

Tak­ing a close look at this in­sect, it is more of a pale orange, with sub­tle grey­ish brown mark­ings and black eye­spots. The wall brown is unique with the one large eye­spot on the forewing and four smaller eye­spots on the hind­wing. It’s a lit­tle beauty and not just brown.

I re­alise this is now get­ting to late Septem­ber but the wall brown will be fly­ing around un­til the end of Oc­to­ber. It will have had two or three broods over the long, hot sum­mer that seems so far away now.

The wall brown is wide­spread, but num­bers are de­clin­ing. It can be seen in hot, sunny places - open grass­land, sand dunes and rocky fore­shores, dis­used quar­ries and rail­way cut­tings and even gar­dens. Its cater­pil­lars feed on a va­ri­ety of grasses.

Its name, the wall brown, comes from a habit of bask­ing on bare patches of rock, earth and stone, such as walls and paths. This al­lows it to raise its tem­per­a­ture both di­rectly from the sun and in­di­rectly from the re­flected heat of the sur­face it is on, giv­ing it the power to fly.

It ex­plains its re­luc­tance to budge while I was tak­ing pic­tures, spoil­ing my at­tempts to be Wildlife Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year.

But its ap­pear­ance cer­tainly added to a lovely day and many but­ter­flies will do the same be­fore they van­ish for the win­ter.

Treat this as a re­minder that when you work on the gar­den this win­ter to plant some but­ter­fly and bee-friendly ar­eas. They will brighten up your gar­den in so many ways.

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 call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust.org. uk.

Alan Wright

Wall brown but­ter­fly on War­ton Crag

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