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!
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
Whilst I was taking photographs of these beautiful Brimstone butterflies (Gonepteryx rhamni) nectaring on the little pink flower-pots of Bell heather (Erica cinerea), I noticed that they stopped when a … Continue Reading Brimstones in the sun: thermoregulation
When I first saw this pair of Wood white butterflies in Spain, I did not realise that they were mating, i.e. in copula, as they were at right angles to each … Continue Reading Courtship and Mating in Wood Whites
Conventional wisdom has it that the ‘tails’ seen at the end of the hindwings of many butterflies, particularly lycaenids (the ‘blues’), are serving to mimic antennae, and together with eyespots … Continue Reading False heads and fluffy tails!
Butterfly wings can serve a variety of different functions, enabling them to fly, hide, startle and fool predators, warm up, identify each other, and last but not least, choose mates. … Continue Reading Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary: What’s in a spot?
It was a hot day in northern Thailand when spotted an attractive Red Lacewing butterfly and started following it, hoping it would settle down so that I could get some … Continue Reading Fighting over a dead frog!
The Common Blue is a gorgeous little butterfly. Although the bright blue male is flashy and showy, it’s the female I like best, with her subtle variations of blue and … Continue Reading Common Blues – female colour variation
The butterfly proboscis (plural: proboscides) is an exquisitely evolved instrument for exploiting sources of nectar at the base of flowers. In fact it has evolved in concert – co-evolution – with … Continue Reading The butterfly proboscis – sucking tube and mopping sponge
This is a story of a moth, Histia flabellicornis (Zygaenidae), which is a Müllerian mimic, which means that it is an unpalatable species in the same area as other unpalatable moths … Continue Reading A tale of a black moth: a Müllerian mimic in Thailand?
It has been suggested that the Common Map butterfly (Cyrestis thyodamas) – also called the Oriental Map – relies for its survival on resting in an upside-down position (1, 2). Or … Continue Reading Which way up to read The Map?
Red Admirals love apples! Or more precisely, they like rotten apples and other wind-fallen or over-ripe fruit which has sat on the ground for a while and started to rot … Continue Reading Tasting with your feet! Butterfly tarsi.