Anyone who has ever sat and watched dragonflies flying over a pond; turning back and forth and darting up to investigate an intruder, will not be surprised to learn that … Continue Reading Dragonfly eyes
The Comma (Polygonia c–album) is a familiar butterfly, seen throughout most of England and Wales in the summer. Most people will have looked at the white ‘comma’ mark on the … Continue Reading Distractive markings on lepidopteran wings
One of the best known migratory butterflies, the painted lady, undertakes a yearly migration, along what is best described as a ‘continuously breeding migration path’ (Stefanescu. 2013). This annual, multi‐generational round‐trip is … Continue Reading Painted ladies on tour – butterfly migration
Why is that in some butterflies, the sexes are identical, whereas in other species the male and female are very different? Not an easy question to answer I think. In … Continue Reading Sexual dimorphism: when Mr and Mrs butterfly dress differently!
Many people will be familiar with the sight of dragonflies (and damselflies) ‘in tandem’, without knowing exactly what is going on! I came across a pair of mating green marsh … Continue Reading Green marsh hawks mating
I am no expert when it comes to macro-photography. I don’t have the patience to set up all the equipment needed to get the perfect shot. Rather, I like … Continue Reading Portrait of a skipper – to flash or not to flash!
I am going to try and do something a little bit different in this blog; step back a bit and try to show butterflies in the habitats in which they … Continue Reading Butterflies in their habitats
Adult butterflies feed on a variety of fluids, including nectar, water, damp substrates (mud), rotting fruit, excrement and so on. The term ‘mud puddling’, or just puddling, is usually used … Continue Reading Puddling, peeing and recycling in butterflies
There are plenty of blue organisms in the world, but blue is nevertheless the rarest pigment found in nature. Most blue colours are produced by physical effects and are called structural colours. There … Continue Reading Something blue – butterfly wings
When taking pictures of butterflies, especially when using a flash-gun or pop-up flash, a regular pattern of dark spots often appears in the compound eye. The dark spot near the … Continue Reading The eyes have it! Butterfly eyes and pseudopupils
In a classic study, the pioneering Dutch ethologist, Niko Tinbergen, and his students famously studied the courtship behaviour of the Grayling butterfly, Hipparchia (=Satyrus) semele, at Hulshorst – a sandy … Continue Reading Dots in spots: butterfly eyespots II. Tinbergen and the Grayling.
An awful lot of research papers have been published on eyespots, but scientists still differ in their opinions about exactly how they function. They agree that eyespots intimidate or startle predators, … Continue Reading Dots in spots: butterfly eyespots I. Conspicuousness or eye-mimicry?
Females butterflies are usually a lot more choosy than males. They produce eggs, and have more resources invested in each one; compared to the millions of tiny sperms that males … Continue Reading Butterfly love and the perils of mating!
These beautiful dung beetles are relatively common in NW Spain, and can often be seen flying purposefully through the pine forests, like tiny green helicopters, on a mission to find … Continue Reading Beetles taking off!
The Marsh Fritillary butterfly, Euphydryas aurinia, is distributed right across the Palaearctic region – from Ireland to Russia. It is a species complex, divided into mostly distinct taxa or subspecies, with slightly different appearances, … Continue Reading Marsh Fritillaries, moos and meadows in Galicia, Spain
I had the pleasure of coming across two large fly species in Spain this summer, both of which are thought to mimic the European hornet (Vespa crabro). They are both large and … Continue Reading Two hornet mimics and a new model!