Two Common "flutter-byes" My Granddaughters Name for the Butterfly

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

My little granddaughter refers to butterflies as "flutter-byes" an apt description for one so young, for it recognises their fluttering, flitting flight as they dance among the flowers. In these days of declining species it is a pleasant change to write about two species that are {at the time of writing} regarded as common and wide spread. Indeed they are expanding their range ibn the British Isles -they are the Speckled wood and the Gate keeper.

I will first look at the Speckled Wood Parage aegeria, which delights to fly in partially shaded woodland in dappled light. In this leafy serenity it often finds a small pool of sunlight in which to bask.

Speckled Wood

Speckled wood loves to bask in dapple light. Photograph by D.A.L.
Speckled wood loves to bask in dapple light. Photograph by D.A.L.

Description

They are of a light brown colour with creamy white spots or speckles on the wings, this along with its preferred habitat give the butterfly its common name. Females have brighter and more distinct markings than the males, however, both species are of a similar size, the female being fractionally larger.

Top. Speckled wood on Bramble. Below Speckled wood with damaged wing

Photograph by D.A.L.
Photograph by D.A.L.
This specimen has a damaged wing. Probably pecked by a bird. Photograph by D.A.L.
This specimen has a damaged wing. Probably pecked by a bird. Photograph by D.A.L.

Very territorial

Male speckled wood's are extremely territorial and will readily take to the air to combat intruding males in aerial fluttering flights. The spots on the wing are a form of self preservation. Birds that feed on butterflies will attack the "eyes", an illusion created by the spots, this will cause damage to the wing but the main body will remain unharmed.

Speckled wood feeds on honey dew in the tree canopy and when they are engaged in this activity they are seldom seen. However, later in the season when aphid numbers have diminished they are more commonly encounter feeding on flowers in gardens as well as on those that are near to woodland.

The species was once in decline but thankfully has regained its former numbers, indeed in many areas in the north of England their numbers and range continue to spread. The food plant of the caterpillar are grasses which include False brome, Cock'sfoot, Yorkshire fog and common couch. They pupate close to the floor in grass tussocks.

The adults season begins, as a rule, in April until June. {This year 2010 the first speckled wood recorded was on February 19th in Sussex Southern England --Butterfly conservation web site}. A second brood takes to the wing from July until September.

Lepidoptera

Butterflies belong to an order of insects known as Lepidoptera , and all the brown butterflies are placed in a family known as the Satyridae.All British species have "eye" spots on the wings. The next species under review the Gate keeper Lysandra coridora, is another member of the Satyridae. The gate keeper delights to flutter among the meadow grasses and hedgerows in the vicinity. It is similar to another brown butterfly of this family the Meadow brown Maniola jurtina. However,the gate keeper has prominent orange patches bordered by a dusky brown colour. They have single eye spots on the forewings.

Being a butterfly of meadows , it is not, therefore, surprising that the caterpillar feeds, like our previous subject, on grasses. They pupate in tussocks near the base. They are to be encountered on the wing from July until August. Gate keepers can be observed on the wing even on dull days, providing it is reasonably warm. According to the ButterflyConservation Web site it was first recorded in the north of England in Yorkshire on 24th June and here in Lancashire on the 17th July.

Along with other common species such as the skipper, comma,cabbage white, peacock and red admiral, the butterflies have visited our region in good numbers this year. One can only hope they continue to do so in future years.

Some other species

Gate keeper. Photograph by D.A.L.
Gate keeper. Photograph by D.A.L.
Gate keeper. Photograph by D.A.L.
Gate keeper. Photograph by D.A.L.
Comma butterfly. Photograph by D.A.L.
Comma butterfly. Photograph by D.A.L.
Cabbage white. photograph by D.A.L.
Cabbage white. photograph by D.A.L.

More by this Author


Comments 15 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

HI, Peggy W, thank you for your visit and for your kind comments. Butterflies are always a joy to observe, especially in your own yard.Best wishes to you.

Logan the Writer, nice to meet you, thank you for your appreciated visit and taking the time to comment. Best wishes to you.


LoganTheWriter profile image

LoganTheWriter 6 years ago from Alabama

Comma butterfly looks so cool! Nice hub!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Flutter-byes is a cute name for butterflies. We have quite a few in our yard a majority of the year because I have plants that attract them. Always fun to see them fluttering about in the garden. I thought that the prettiest one that you photographed was the Comma butterfly. Quite a beauty! Thanks for this informative hub.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi Steve, Thank you for your support and for leaving your appreciated comments.


Yard of nature profile image

Yard of nature 6 years ago from Michigan

Flutter-byes. You're granddaughter is a kindred spirit. I like to call butterflies that, too. I think it's as descriptive.

Thanks for sharing and for your keen eye and insights on the natural world.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi Jill, thank you for your kind comments they are appreciated. Best wishes to you.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

I love this hub D.A.L.! I love the photos too!

Thanks for sharing! I always learn so much from you.

God bless!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Dim Flaxenwick, thank you for reading and for leaving your appreciated comments. Best wishes to you.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

Beautiful and interesting hub. Pics were gorgeous. Thank you for a most enjoyable article


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

HI, B, They certainly are best wishes to you.

Hi Martie Coetser, Thank you too, for reading and for taking the time to leave a comment. Best wishes to you.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

Relevant and interesting information! I enjoyed the read.


Joy56 profile image

Joy56 6 years ago

Butterflies are such beautiful creatures, nice to see some on your hub, i as always enjoyed .....


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

timorous, thank you for your visit, The sight of those large Monarch butterflies must be something special to see. Thank you for leaving your appreciated comments. Best wishes to you.

sabu, thank you too, for reading. The small tortoise shell is indeed declining in the U. K. generally Although Global warming is thought to be a factor it is not known for certain. Studies are currently being undertaken to try to identify the cause. Best wishes to you.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago

Thank you for this interesting Hub D.A.L.

I know precious little about butterflies. I recall reading that the population of the small tortoiseshell butterfly has fallen drastically in South-east England and this could be caused by global warming.


timorous profile image

timorous 6 years ago from Me to You

Nice butterfly pics, D.A.L. I don't recollect seeing those around here (Ontario, Canada). The most common visitor here is the Monarch of course. Once in a very long while you may see masses of them in late summer..migrating to their favourite Mexican retreat perhaps?

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