Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Butterflies By The Sea

Marbled White, Melanargia galathea.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
Marbled White, Melanargia galathea.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
It was windy in the dunes along Sandwich Bay.  Mostly, too windy to get good photos of anything small, because everything was moving.  But there was a sheltered spot with a range of flowering plants, and butterflies were feeding there in abundance.

There were dozens of Marbled Whites.  They are very pretty, and as is often the case, the undersides of their wings are more interesting than the upper surfaces.

Small White, Pieris rapae.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
Small White, Pieris rapae.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
Marbled Whites really belong with the brown butterflies, in the family Nymphalidae. This Small White is a true white butterfly from the Pieridae.

Small Heath, Coenonympha pamphilus.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
Small Heath, Coenonympha pamphilus.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
The Small Heath is quite a furry-looking thing; like the Marbled White, it's of the Nymphalidae.  And there was yet another family represented:

Small Skipper, Thymelicus sylvestris.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
Small Skipper, Thymelicus sylvestris.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
The Hesperidae.  There were lots of these Small Skippers flitting around in the grass.  There is a closely related species, the Essex Skipper, which looks just like this except that the undersides of the tips of its antennae are sooty black.  In this photo you can see the exact spot you have to look for to tell the difference.  On this butterfly it's orange.

The Marbled White at the top is feeding from a Creeping Thistle. The Small White is just resting.  The Small Heath is investigating a bramble flower, and the Small Skipper is feeding from a Ragwort.  Those are all popular food sources  Bramble hedges in particular are always good for some insect life.

There were other Lepidoptera present too.  There were many Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnets, which are day-flying moths.

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet.  Zygaena lonicerae.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet.  Zygaena lonicerae.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
You can't tell these from the related (non-narrow-bordered) Five-spot Burnets from a photo, but the population here is known to be Narrow-bordered. 

Although I did not see a mature adult, there were Cinnabar larvae feeding on the Ragwort.

Cinnabar larva, Tyria jacobaeae.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
Cinnabar larva, Tyria jacobaeae.  Sandwich Bay, 3 June 2015.
The Cinnabar is another day-flying moth.  These two moths are representatives of two more Lepidopteran families, the Zygaenidae and Erebidae respectively.  So we had a good range on display.

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