The Speckled Wood

The storm didn’t really abate much. It stopped raining but a wicked wind blew up and I gave up on the idea of photographing flowers. I still had to take Fizz for a walk and there is a nice little track just outside the farm that is not too overgrown and just right for playing ball as we walk.

Speckled WoodThis sort of dappled woodland edge is also ideal habitat for the Speckled Wood Butterfly and so, quite by accident I found myself looking at one.

Speckled Wood

Speckled WoodThis is one of my favourite butterflies but this one was a bit tatty and the sunshine didn’t last long but never mind I have got some older pictures to show you.

Speckled WoodWhy do I like this one so much? The Speckled Wood is a true woodland butterfly it doesn’t feed on nectar from flowers and has no need of those sunny rides and gardens that other butterflies frequent. This butterfly primarily feeds on Aphid honeydew which it finds covering the leaves in the woodland canopy.

Speckled WoodAphids feed on plant sap. The sap contains too much sugar and so the insects secrete the excess. ย The Honeydew covers the leaves of trees and it drips down onto your car if you park under a tree on a warm summer’s day. A whole host of animals take advantage of this sugary secretion including quite a few butterfly species.

You can often see a Speckled Wood in the garden but you only see them feeding on flowers when there are no Aphids (very early or late summer) They are one of very few butterfly species that you will find regularlyย in woodland, ย there are others that live in the canopy that you rarely see but the Speckled Wood is very often at ground level holding a little patch of sunlight as it’s own.

Telling the sexes apart isn’t always easy. The female has much larger cream patches and is brighter but when you get one that is half and half and you have nothing to compare it to then it isn’t always obvious.

Male Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood

Female Speckled WoodSpeckled Wood

This butterfly is unique amongst UK Butterflies in that it can overwinter either as a caterpillar or a chrysalis. Generally it is accepted that there are three broods of new butterflies emerging during the course of the summer but these broods sometimes overlap and the result is that you can have brand new butterflies emerging pretty much any time from March until August.

Speckled WoodSo that is Pararge aegeria. I think that it is my favourite Butterfly because for a long time it lived in the woods with me when there were no other butterflies about.

Speckled Wood

18 thoughts on “The Speckled Wood”

  1. Thank you. As always, lots of fascinating info. So that’s what those speckles of moisture are all over the windscreen of my car parked under the giant black walnut tree–honey dew! So much more romantic that bug shit.


  2. I think this is very attractive and I like the pattern on its wings. I love the leafy background you used to make the photo too. Sometimes, flowers and green plants detract from the actual butterfly in a photo.

    I haven’t seen many butterflies (or birds) at all lately. Hopefully Spring Down Under will bring some more out into view.


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