Missing you already

This is going to be another Butterfly post concerning the Small Tortoiseshell.

I was out yesterday taking photographs when I was accosted by yet another Aglais urticae, “Take my picture.” These have been by far the most common butterflies around here this year.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small TortoiseshellI don’t know what to say to them any more. I have got Small Tortoiseshells coming out of the woodwork.

Small Tortoiseshell When I went to bed last night, some time after midnight I had a chrysalis (one of two remaining).Small Tortoiseshell ChrysalisWhen I woke up it was empty.

Small TortoiseshellShe could have waited. Actually these pictures had to be taken indoors on an overcast day so the light would have been rubbish anyway. I was not going to disturb the animal by moving her.

A little while later she started making a mess on the table.

Small TortoiseshellDon’t be alarmed, that fluid is what she used to inflate her wings. Once the wings are fully inflated she drains off any excess. It takes quite a few hours for her wings to inflate and harden and she has to be left to hang there and let everything happen as it should.

Small TortoiseshellI turned my back for a second and my butterfly was gone.

Empty Small Tortoiseshell chrysalisAt this time she was acting very keen to go but I wouldn’t let her out, she didn’t even have a coat.

Small TortoiseshellAfter a bit the rain stopped and I took her outside.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small TortoiseshellNow just like the other two she was reluctant to let go. Something new was happening. There was a slight breeze and I could see the air flowing across her wings and moving them gently She has only ever flown inside and it must be very different to have to master the air currents.

I was in no hurry.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small TortoiseshellWhile we are waiting for her to make up her mind and fly I am just going to crop a couple of pictures and show you something about her.

You would be excused for thinking that this butterfly has four legs, two on each side. In fact she is just like all other insects and she has six legs.

Small TortoiseshellShe belongs to a family called the Nymphalidae or Brush-footed Butterflies. They don’t use their front two legs for walking. The front legs are very hairy. You can see them in this next picture and if you can’t then clasp your hands behind your neck, now can you see them?

Small TortoiseshellAbout now I began to wonder if she was too cold to fly or just not ready, she didn’t seem to want to go.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small TortoiseshellI put her down just inside the open door out of the breeze, so she could go in her own time and as soon as I broke our connection she was gone out of the door forever.

Maybe she will be one of those animals that pesters me in the field this afternoon.

It has been great having them live with me.

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