|Small Tortoiseshell ( Aglais urticae )|
Anyway, on with today's post. Small Tortoiseshells butterflies usually come out around this time but I haven't actually seen many yet so I was lucky to see this one recently and grab some shots. I love butterflies in general and last year my Grandad actually bought me a Painted Lady growing kit. It had 5 caterpillars in it and, over the Spring, I successfully raised them and set all 5 of them free! There's a bit more about this in my Painted Lady post.
So, here are the Small Tortoiseshell facts:
- Above I said that the usually come out this time of the year but not always. The high temperature is what wakes them.
|All this heat should ensure lots are emerging|
- This means that they might come out of their hibernation on the first days of January or the middle of September. With the previous weather I have had up here, the heatwave should entice them out of their sleep.
- They have a wingspan of 45-55mm in Males and 52-62mm and each wing has an orange backdrop with a black outline, at the top there is a line of black and peach. Right on the wing tip is a dab of white.
- Females lay their eggs on young stinging nettles, either the Common Nettle or the Small Nettle.
- This is because the larvae feed on these plants, the adults' main food source is nectar extracted from different plants.
- You will normally see the Tortoiseshell Butterfly throughout March to October, if the weather is right. The caterpillars are seen from May to August.
- This is a long season as they often have two broods per year and explains why you often see hibernating Tortoiseshells.
|Very successful but numbers are declining|
- They are usually found feeding on a variety of flowers in most 'flowery places' and in both urban and rural places.
- They are a very successful butterfly in the UK and are very widespread being found all across the country including as far North of Shetland.
- Worryingly though there has been a decline in their numbers and this could be down to a fly who's larvae feed on the butterflys larvae. This fly Sturmia Bella, is now more common due to global warming.
- Their wings hold extremely good defence for them. When they are closed the look exactly like leaves, camouflaging them.
Here are some links to more information:
Hope you enjoyed,