When I wrote about butterflies visiting the garden in July we had seen the Speckled Wood in the copse and amongst the orchard trees but I had not managed to capture it on camera.
The Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) is a relatively common British butterfly that frequents the dappled shade of the woodland edge. Although I had seen them in the garden they were so well camouflaged that as soon as they landed they seemed to just disappear! Finally however I have managed to have some success.
It is reported¹ that both sexes feed on the honeydew in the tree tops and are rarely seen feeding on flowers except when aphid activity is low. The butterflies are on the wing from May until October². It appears this butterfly is unique among the butterflies of the British Isles⁴ as it can hibernate and over winter either as a caterpillar or a chrysalis³.
The food plants¹ ² of the caterpillars include various grasses including Cock’s Foot (Dactylis glomerata), Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) and Couch Grass (Agropyron repens). I knew there was a reason why I should have couch grass growing in the garden!
² “Butterflies and Moths of Britain and Europe” by David Carter (ISBN: 0 330 26642 X)
³ “The Butterfly Isles” by Patrick Barkham (ISBN 978-1-84708-127-8)
2 thoughts on “Garden Ecology – Speckled Wood Butterfly”
I wasn’t aware of this butterfly. I will look out for it now. Thank you!
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