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British ButterfliesSince a child, I have had a passion for nature and seen it decline over the years to a degree where the once common are now a rare sight. My work isn't all about cameras, or who owns the biggest lens ever made. I am photographing these beautiful insects before they are lost forever. If you are looking at my images to compare photography skills and don't care for the nature well stop! And think for a moment, If there's no nature left where will you get that next photo to share on facebook from? I care, do you?
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One of the first to be seen when spring breaks, they can be seen in woods and forests but seems to be struggling to find any flowers. a great time to photograph them when you have sunny days with patchy clouds, you know those day's the sun is warm until a cloud covers the sun, then suddenly it's chilly, that's the time to try for these wonderful butterflies, they will often find somewhere to rest and wait for the sun to shine again.
The wings of the female are pale green, can almost white sometimes, males have yellow-green underwings and yellow upper wings.
Feed on leaves of Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus). Where to look Can be found in scrubby grassland and woodlands. The butterfly ranges widely and can often be seen flying along roadside verges and hedgerows.
Another springtime butterfly but one that can be seen throughout the year, this one was taken late in the year and was the last butterfly of the year, with a lack of flowers to feed on this comma found blackberries. The Comma is an interesting butterfly. With its crazy shape and can almost blend in with dead leaves.
My findings on which flowers they link to feed on. Black-eyed Susan, a common garden flower, blackberry flowers and sometimes tree sap, I have seen several commas feeding on silver birch tree sap.
The most widely used foodplant is Common Nettle (Urtica dioica). Other species used include Hop (Humulus lupulus), elms (Ulmus spp.), currants (Ribes spp.), and Willows (Salix spp).
HabitatOpen woodland, around ferns often and will seek sunny patches, can be seen almost anywhere.
Sadly the only blue butterflies I have seen, these are often seen in early spring, the Wings are bright blue. Females have black wing edges. They seem to fly around hedges (but this may be Fenland countryside issue, there's hardly any trees), for its size it's a strong flyer.
New photo to right-hand side shows one feeding from the mud, it's known as mud pudding or just pudding, drinking to find nutrients, minerals and salts.
The larvae feed predominantly on the flower buds, berries and terminal leaves of Holly (Ilex aquifolium) and Ivy (Hedera helix). (Euonymus europaeus), dogwoods (Cornus spp.), snowberries (Symphoricarpos spp), gorses (Ulex spp.), also (Rubus fruticosus).
A range of wild crucifers is used: Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale) Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum), Charlock (Sinapis arvensis), Large Bitter-cress (C. Amara), Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea), and Wild Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum). Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) and cultivated crucifers are used occasionally.
A widespread butterfly likes damp areas and lots of vegetation; it can be found anywhere, river banks, woods, open spaces, this is the most seen butterfly within our nature garden.
Food plant for the butterfly
Coastline marsh, drinking from the mud (maybe seeking salt), Sea lavender, a salt-loving plant, seen on salt marshes. Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) and many other flowers.
It states a common and widespread butterfly, but now in my neck of the woods, sightings are a handful per year with 2018 being the worse yet. It can be found in gardens and along hedgerows. The males are unmistakable; they are white with bright orange wing tips. The females are white with black wing tips. Both have mottled green underwings. Over the years I have been interested in these insects. I have noticed they tend to only feed on the Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis), I have never seen this flower in the Cambridgeshire Fens where I'm from, and when spotting these butterflies on rare occasions I will follow them as much as I can, they will bypass every flower. If the cuckoo flower is their only food plant, then I can see why these are struggling here. I once lived in Bedfordshire and found some local lakes and low and behold cuckoo flowers and along with these flowers was the fantastic orange tip, the photo above if one feeding on the right flower. I have looked for many months for these flowers and still no luck.
Several crucifers are used, especially Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) in damp meadows and Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) along road verges and ditches. Occasionally, it uses Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Winter-cress (Barbarea vulgaris), Turnip (Brassica rapa), Charlock (Sinapis avensis), Large Bitter-cress (C. amara), and Hairy Rock-cress (Arbis hirsuta).
Orange-tips prefer damp habitats such as meadows, woodland glades, hedgerows and the banks of streams and rivers, here in the Fens they are seen in the open countryside and will visit gardens but again the Fens will be the only place for wildflowers mostly.
Male Large Skippers will search out a sunny place then rest where they will wait for passing females but will mistake flies and other insects too; it's funny to watch! Females are less conspicuous, both males and females will feed on thistles, and you may see a number on one flower, you be shocked just how many can fit on one flower! They state Brambles being the most popular but what I have seen is the thistle attracting more. Males have a thick black line through the centre of the forewing. Undersides have orange spots or patches.
Butterfly food plant
Cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata), Purple Moor-grass seems prevalent in the Fens, (Molinia caerulea) and False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Wood Small-reed (Calamagrostis epigejos).
The Meadow Brown is the most common and even here in the Fens there will be large numbers, mostly all arguing over one flower. Can be seen out in the countryside, river banks and gardens, forest and woodlands.
Grasses and plants fescues (Festuca spp.), Cock's foot (Dactylis glomerata), Downy Oat grass (Helictotrichon pubescent)
A large and strong-flying butterfly and common in gardens. It's seen feeding on several flowers; naturally, if you have some form of flowers, they may well show up. Have seen them feeding on mud from puddles, maybe looking for salts and minerals.
Foodplants are Common Nettle (Urtica dioica).
A large and strong-flying butterfly and common in gardens. This familiar and distinctive insect may be found anywhere in Britain and Ireland and all habitat types. Starting each spring and continuing through the summer there are northward migrations, which are variable in extent and timing, from North Africa and continental Europe. The immigrant females lay eggs and consequently there is an emergence of fresh butterflies, from about July onwards. They continue flying into October or November and are typically seen nectaring on garden buddleias or flowering Ivy and rotting fruit. There is an indication that numbers have increased in recent years and that overwintering has occurred in the far south of England.
Caterpillar Foodplants In Britain and Ireland the most important and widely available larval foodplant is Common Nettle (Urtica dioica). However, Small Nettle (U. urens) and the related species, Pellitory-of-the-wall (Parietaria judaica) and Hop (Humulus lupulus) may also be used.
A butterfly that's seen in open grassland, woodlands and forests, along river banks, roadsides but in the Fens yet again a rare sight, haven't seen any this year but have seen a few along the marsh wash nature reserve Lincolnshire, they seem to be in patches here like many most of the nature here.
Coarser grasses are used, including Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Tufted Hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa), Common Couch (Elytrigia repens), and meadow-grasses (Poa spp.).
A stunning butterfly and one that's getting harder to find, with just 2 seen in 2017 and none this year so far. They tend to be around woodlands and forests, also in open meadows ( if you can find a meadow), also seen on ferns and will rest in the undergrowth; they are lait flyers too, have seen these in September.
Caterpillar Food plants
Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and Sheep's Sorrel (R. acetosella) are the main foodplants. Broad-leaved Dock (R. obtusifolius) may be occasionally used.
Wow one rare butterfly for me
Not sure what I can say about this butterfly, seen one once, in windy weather, it landed at my feet, I managed the one photo. I have read these are somewhat common, but if these are common, then I'm blind. As with all my butterflies, I will update when I find more.
Fine grasses, especially fescues (Festuca spp.), meadow-grasses (Poa spp.), and bents (Agrostis spp.).
Habitat Occurs on grassland where there are fine grasses, especially in dry, well-drained situations where the turf is short and sparse. Typical habitats include; heathland, downland and coastal dunes, but it is also found on road verges, moorland and in woodland rides.
Bright orange-brown wings held with forewings angled above hind wings. Males have a thin black line through the centre of fore-wing, they are experts at darting through grasses and will rest in stems of grass, often seen in small groups. The coastlines of Norfolk seems to be the places for these colourful critters And Seems very common along the nene river near the Lincolnshire wash marsh.
Butterfly food plant.
Thistles, large and small, sea lavender.
Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus), although several other kinds of grass have been recorded as foodplants, for example, Timothy (Phleum pratense), Creeping Soft-grass (H.mollis), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), and Cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata).
Often seen in woodlands, I have seen these under oak trees, and the males tend to keep to one patch, they will stake this out as a territory, will wait for females to pass, you can get very close to these butterflies, if you scare them away, they will soon come back. I tend not to see any of these in the Fens, maybe 3-5 per year.
False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata) Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus) Common Couch (Elytrigia repens).
The Small Tortoiseshell is among the most well-known butterflies in the UK. With it's stunning and patterns and colours, as stated these are a popular site but again in the Fens we hardly see any.
Butterfly foo plant
Seen feeding on sea lavender on coastlines
Caterpillar Foodplants Common Nettle (Urtica dioica) and Small Nettle (U. urens) are used.
Wing Span, both sexes 35mm
The most common blue butterfly in the UK, well I'm not so sure about that, This stunning butterfly was taken in our garden (Cambridgeshire Fens) village last week 16/06/2018, this is the second only to be seen here in 46 years of living here. The fens have been long forgotton, and it seems local people to have little interest. Photographers could play a big roll in showing issues regarding nature, but sadly most are just out for the photos and have no interest in the subjects!
An Easy butterfly to sex, females are brown inside the wings. Be gentle, and they are great to photograph.
Foodplants for caterpillars.
Common Bird' s-foot-trefoil is the main foodplant. Other plants used include Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil, Black Medick, Common Restharrow, White Clover, Lesser Trefoil.
Would like to add foodplants for the butterflies but sadly seeing just two does help that much.
But it was seen feeding for a good time on a common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) black eye Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) (shown with butterfly feeding)
Help save our butterflies and other insects
Our wildlife is struggling like never before; We humans are destroying their homes, either by over farming, cutting down the forest and simply taking over habitats
Do you want to be part of a generation that caused the mass extinction of many of the world wildlife? We now at the point where you can't pass it to the next generation! It is now up to us as an individual to try and make a difference!
Building a nature garden does help, it's natures roadside caff for all kinds of insects. When their habitats have been removed like here in the Fens, even a small garden will make a difference.
My nature garden contains a tiny pond (30x15inches) costing £20, it is in its second year now and has a vast range of insects and the pond is a vital home for common frogs.
I'm not going to sugar coat the world as you meant to do, so its time to get off that sofa, put that phone down, turn the Xbox off and take a look around you and help our dam nature!
Keys items, bug-friendly flowers and plants, a bug hotel, old tree logs, grasses, a box of wildflower seeds, a pond if possible the butterfly tree (Buddleia davidii).
Downloads and Framed Prints
All images below are available to buy as downloads for personal and commercial use. I also offer a printing and picture framing service, these are only available on request, and all are made to order, click on the framed bird above for more info.