You have to be a pretty good photographer – well phenomenally good actually! – to try and identify this species of hoverfly via a photograph (Syrphus sp. maybe S. ribesii). … Continue Reading Musings on a syrphid
Spring is a lovely time. Things start growing again. Buds, flowers, delicate green leaves, new shoots. Life renewing itself. A good time to get out and take some pictures. Photograph … Continue Reading Images of Spring
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 … Continue Reading Butterflies and climate change
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 … Continue Reading How to build a butterfly!
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 … 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?