Path to butterfly paradise
THERE’S a path that runs from Monton to Ellenbrook and onto Leigh, which used to be a railway line.
The Leigh section is the guided busway – ending up in Manchester – but the section in Salford has been made into a lovely place for people to walk, run and cycle.
I was walking along this section this week, enjoying the cherry blossoms, when I spotted my first butterfly of the spring.
A peacock, which has big blue ‘eyes’ on its wings, just like the peacock bird’s tail feathers, was fluttering around the cherry trees and plants along the path.
These large butterflies will take advantage of warmer days to feed on flowers and they will come into your garden.
The peacock is probably our most familiar butterfly, being deep red with black spots and those blue eyespots on both the forewings and hindwings.
Its underside is dark brown, making the wings look like dead leaves, so perfect for camouflage.
If you have buddleia in your garden you will almost certainly get peacocks fluttering in, but you will also see them in woodland clearings and rides.
I love rides – these are the long stretches of wood or hills where butterflies and other insects get long spaces to fly around to breed and feed.
If you have a nettle patch in your garden, peacock caterpillars will feed on them.
It is always good to have a nettle patch in your wildlife garden.
The eyes on the peacock’s wings are there for protection and when this butterfly is alarmed it can make a hissing noise by rubbing its wings together.
All that hissing and staring will make it a pretty scary customer when predators come into contact with it.
Of course, I didn’t see that, all I saw was a beautiful butterfly which just sat for long enough for me to take a photograph.
Butterflies will be more frequent from now on.
Look out for common blues and orange tips, their names are a good description of what they look like.
Bees and hoverflies will be flying around, and they are all important pollinators of plants in the wild and in our gardens.
And for all of you who might be confused, peacocks are also noisy birds with huge tails that you will see in parks and gardens around the country.