Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The future is orange!

A male orange tip butterfly
I watched an orange- tip butterfly today, laying her eggs on the caterpillar food plant - Hedge Garlic (they will also commonly use Lady’s Smock or garden grown Honesty) She was careful it seemed to lay only one egg on each individual plant, placing each miniscule, slightly yellowish capsule either on the plant’s stem just below the white flower head or tucked away under one of the leaves. This seemed a good tactic, as one of the plants she chose was growing in the middle of a farm track and would be at high risk of being crushed by farm machinery. However, most were growing adjacent to the field boundary – hence a country name for Hedge Garlic being “Jack-by-the-hedge”!!
The eggs will soon hatch and the caterpillars will feed voraciously on the plant before pupating towards the end of July. There it will stay until the warm spring sun in April or May of next year entices it from its chrysalis, to once again fly down the same country track as generation after generation has done before. I felt rather privileged to witness the start of this brand new cycle.
Incidentally – it is only the male that has the orange tipped wings!  

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