Tuesday, July 11, 2017


It's peak flowering time for brambles in Teesdale at the moment, which means that it is also peak feeding time for ringlet butterflies Aphantopus hyperantus that like to nectar on the flowers.

When they first emerge their wings are like dark brown velvet, fringed with white hairs, but as the season progresses they lose scales and their colour becomes paler. 
This individual with nicely defined wing spots, sunning itself on a bramble leaf today, is a female. Males tend to have just small dark dots as wing markings.

Ringlets have become much more common in the North Pennines over the last thirty years. There is no shortage of their larval food plants - grasses - and the adults seem very tolerant of dull and damp conditions. I've often seen them flying low over vegetation in very overcast conditions and sometimes even in drizzling rain.

They are very casual about where they lay their eggs. Most butterflies stick them on their larval food plants but ringlets just drop them into the grass. 

Purely by chance, a few years ago I photographed this one in the act of laying an egg, with the egg in mid-air.


  1. A serendipitous shot of the egg.
    Here they do the same but confine their egg laying to a strip of long grass a hundred metres by five. Apart from this strip of grass catching early morning sun it seems much like any other grass.

    1. I wonder what it is that attracts them to that patch? I think some butterflies, like speckled woods, defend territories but I don't think I've ever noticed that with ringlets.

    2. I see them from just hatched to mature, mostly females climbing or roosting on the grass. They do flutter up to a mile during the day but I have never found one roosting anywhere else. There are acres of barley, wheat and second year hay meadow but they aren't in it and none is sprayed with pesticides.
      The pesticide for leather jackets has been banned and a year on they are in decimation mode. I like Crane flies but enough is enough. This year we will follow the straw baler with the plough and power harrow at least once a week or two before sowing winter barley. Assuming the ground is not too soft every time we have diesel to burn before sowing spring crop we will turn it and hope the birds and frost kill the little buggers. No CAP grants here so we can do as we please-ish. I wish we could remember what variety of malting barley was drilled. Most seed heads have nice fat seeds and there are thirty odd or even per stalk. Last year twenty two was average.

    3. Sounds like you need a big flock of starlings, Adrian - they love leatherjackets


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