First off the blocks we have the peacock butterfly. There were a lot of white butterflies and a couple of tortoiseshells, but only the flash showy peacock posed for a photograph. The “eyes” are thought to deter predators such as mice and it is also able to make a hissing noise by rubbing its wings together. There is a link to a free e-book about British butterflies on my earlier post here.
Of course I can dig up some folklore about butterflies. As they emerge from dead looking pupae it was thought that they were the souls of the dead, or alternatively the soul of a witch. The Russian for butterfly is babochka meaning little soul. It was considered prudent to kill the first butterfly that you saw in spring to avoid it haunting you for the rest of the year. Conversely if a butterfly flies into your home, it is considered to be lucky and all of the doors and windows should be shut to keep it in. If you are wondering why the butterfly fluttered by, it was because it saw the dragonfly drink the flagon dry, presumably the butterfly was seeking a better stocked tavern.
Then we have the hard working honey bee, pollinator of many of our fruits and crops, around 90% of the world’s plants depend upon pollination by bees and similar insects. This little buzzing friend is in serious trouble and consequently so are we. It is widely accepted by scientists after numerous studies that the collapse in bee numbers is due to the use of pesticides. Neonicotinoids in particular are thought to disorientate the bee, preventing it from returning to the hive. Currently a new bio-pesticide made from spider venom is being tested which seems to kill pests but not adversely affect honey bees.
Our old friend the wasp. What, you don’t like wasps? Then head over to my blog post about wasps here and download the free e-book “Wasps and their Ways” you will never look at wasps the same way again. There is also a natty product called a Waspinator which mimics a wasp nest and deters wasps from setting up home in your home. My blog is not popular enough to have paid adverts, so this is a personal recommendation, so far we have had no wasp nests.
Here is a nice collection of hoverflies, for more information and links to hoverfly ID sites, have a little click here.
I am also very pleased to say that the garden is so full of bumblebees that it sounds like a Lancaster aeroplane is circling around. The cotoneaster flowers seemed to be a big hit with them, so it is a pity that this plant is a problematic invasive species. For more bumblebee fun and links to ID sites you might like to look here.
I shall leave the last word to Hans Christian Anderson’s butterfly:
“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”