Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Sleeping beauty awakes

 This lovely peacock butterfly must have found its way into the house, unnoticed, during the very mild weather last October, and has been hibernating here ever since. It woke up late one evening a couple of weeks ago. After settling for a while on the television screen, it flew into the kitchen and began drinking water from a damp washing-up sponge. Central heating must have made it thirsty.

When it settled again it performed its well-known defensive trick of flicking its wings open and closed, creating a hissing sound when the rough hind edge of the forewing rubbed against the rough front edge of the hind wing.

It might not have survived the winter in the house, either because the spiders might have found it, or if had woken again and exhausted itself fluttering against the window. So, after acclimatising it to outdoor temperatures in the greenhouse for a couple of days, I let it crawl into a large terracotta flower pot, laid on its side in the shelter of the garden conifer hedge. If it wakes again before spring there are nectar-rich flowers of hellebores and pulmonarias in the garden for it to feed on.

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