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.
Why 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.
Aphids feed on plant sap. The sap contains too much sugar and so the insects secrete the excess. 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 regularly in woodland, 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
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.