Courtship bowing in meadow browns

Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) butterflies, must, I think, be one of the most common and widespread butterflies in Europe. I am surprised therefore, not to be able to find any photographs of courtship behaviour in this species. The excellent UK Butterflies website states that: “Courtship between male and female is brief. The male showers the…

Butterflies and climate change

We have heard a great deal about climate change in the last year, with protests by Extinction Rebellion activists in London and the incredible teenager, Greta Thunberg reading the riot act to delegates at the UN, condemming world leaders for failing to act on global warming. And last, but not least, the terrible bush fires…

How to build a butterfly!

The upper wing surfaces of butterflies are often brightly coloured and visually highly apparent (above), whilst the undersides are usually fairly dull and inconspicuous (below). Although this characterisation is a gross generalisation – there are plenty of exceptions – these differences between the two wing surfaces, do reflect their contrasting functions: upper surfaces are used…

Distractive markings on lepidopteran wings

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 underside of the hindwing, and many will have wondered what is it for? One, slightly controversial theory, is that it is a ‘distractive’ marking; something…

Painted ladies on tour – butterfly migration

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 essentially a living wave of butterflies which flows north and south each year, with the seasons; in keeping with changes in food resources that follow a…