Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Year of the Red Admiral

I can't recall an early autumn when I've seen so many red admiral butterflies. It seems to be an exceptionally good year for them here in County Durham, both in our garden and in the wider countryside. 

A red admiral with its black and scarlet wings outstretched, basking in the afternoon sunshine, is a magnificent sight but the undersides of the the wings have their own distinctive beauty. When they are folded they provide a degree of camouflage, with their dark dead-leaf colours, but closer examination, with the aid of brighter light, reveals an exquisite, intricate pattern of scales in shades of brown, grey, blue and green.

The three plants that attract them most in our garden in September are ice plant Hylotelephium sp., ivy and Buddleia x weyeriana, but they also congregate in the company of comma butterflies on rotting fallen apples and pears, becoming sluggish and inebriated under the influence of fermenting juice. 

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