Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Pulling Power of Plums

This year our Victoria plum tree has been laden with so many plums that they almost broke the branches off. There's only so many plums you can eat but they make excellent bait for attracting butterflies, like this red admiral.

The bloom on the skin of a plum is yeast, so the juice quickly ferments and the butterflies become inebriated and easy to photograph. I'm not sure if the wings of this one are drooping because it's sunbathing, or whether it's just drunk on alcoholic plum juice, but either way ...

... you can get very close to the butterflies in this soporific state. It's interesting to see how hairy they are.

Rotting plums piled on a bird table will attract red admirals, peacocks, small tortoiseshells and commas - and also wasps, so you need to keep a wary eye out for them.


  1. Superb shots as always. Closer than usual and the better for it.

  2. Soperific (adj) = very BBC Natural History Unit

    Soporific (adj) = very p*ssed butterlies

    Pedantic (adj) = very annoying habit of mine, sorry

    PS The name and location have just struck me. Any English teachers in clan Gates?

  3. Hi Adrian, it was so preoccupied with feeding that i could probably have poked it with the lens and it wouldn't have flown away...

  4. Hi Graeme, thanks for pointing that out - should have got my Englsh teacher wife (ex-Wolsingham) to proof read it for me .... I did know how to spell it, honest.....

  5. Amazing, please pass on my kindest regards. My online efforts are so much better (subjective assessment!) for her valuable input during the late 70s. Small world :o)

  6. well done Graeme for spotting my husband's spelling mistake. Makes all my years of teaching English to you lot at Wolsingham worthwhile! (wasn't I also your form teacher for a while?)
    Kind regards, Sue Gates

  7. (... following a frantic search through the cupboards and shelves of Tense Towers for a report book) That might've been the other Graham. I was the one with several entries of "disappointing" and "poor" in the columns next to Language and Literature, then, to the surprise of all concerned, turned it around at the last minute to post 'A' grades at 'O' level. So if I seemed genuinely bemused and a little ungrateful at the time, may I belatedly offer my heartfelt thanks! VBW, Graeme

  8. Beautiful shots. Our Victoria plum is quite small and we managed to eat most, but I'll follow your tip and put some on the bird table next year. These close ups allow you to see the first pair of legs of the red admiral, which are tiny and tucked up under the head, apparently only used for grooming. All nymphalids have these so they stand only on four legs.

  9. Thanks Blackbird, I hadn't noticed that - fascinating! We've finally eaten our way through the last of the plums but the ground is littered with fallers that are keeping the wasps busy.


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