False heads and fluffy tails!

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 located on the undersides of the hindwings, create the impression of a head. These ‘false heads’ are therefore, a form of reverse mimicry. They serve…

Lang’s Short-tailed Blue: courtship behaviour

There is a huge diversity of different courtship behaviour in butterflies, but one feature appears to be universal: female butterflies ‘almost never fly towards males to mate’ (Scott, 1973). In other words, male butterflies nearly always initiate courtship. For example, in the common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) this involves a display of fluttering wings –…

Bunches of butterflies

When visiting Doi Chiang Dao – a place I have written about before (1) – last November (2015), I came across some interesting aggregations of butterflies; composed mainly of Blues (lycaenids) and Yellows (pierids). I may have been a little bit late, as October is said to be the best month to see butterflies in…

Blues on the heath!

The hills and mountains of of Galicia in north-west Spain are covered in heather and gorse which flower from late summer into autumn.  The heather and gorse are alive with insects (and spiders!) including an array of small blues.  When I visited Galicia in early October, the heather was still flowering and butterflies were still…

A jaggedy edged butterfly

This strange butterfly is a member of the family Lycaenidae; one usually associated with blues, coppers and hairstreaks.  There are however, a group of butterflies in the subfamily Miletinae which are rather different from other members of the family.  They have strange and rather off-putting names, Brownies and Darkies, but are rather elegant and well…