Me and ‘my’ Butterflies

I haven’t seen that many this year…Just once during the #BigButterflyCount (July 17-Aug 8th – today) have I managed to spot 2 Peacocks and 2 (I’m pretty sure) Red Admirals…in any one count. Compared to last year when I regularly had 4 or 5 of each every day in July…

Single Peacock into land

They are no more ‘my’ butterflies of course than anyone else’s. In they fact belong to no one on this earth. It is however our responsibility to see that how we live, currently, is causing a drastic decline in these beautiful species, most of which are on the endangered list now….Which means they never be seen again – in our lifetimes, let alone during those of the people and other animals to come. We are helping heat up the earth to a such a degree (excuse the pun) or point where very soon, not much will survive us (and we wont last that long).

Dry dry dry summer of 22

What a pity that would be! I’ve counted far fewer Peacocks and Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells this year – last year had what seemed like lots on the Buddleias I grow especially for them and for the whole the time they were flowering. This year only like I said only two at any one time – and then only twice. the Buds are nearly over and dried out now already. It could be a bad year of course, like last year was a good year – but it is part of a general demise in Nature, seen all over the world.

What butterflies and other struggling species need is quite simple really – for us to love them! Who couldn’t love these beauties…

Common Blue – I think – saw 1 this year

With that love, and sense of connection in common with the unconditional love we have for our closest friends and families…is the willingness to make the odd sacrifice. Unconventional gardening – with Nettles and other fave larval foodplants…

Comma caterpillar on the Nettles – next day it was an empty case and new instar had disappeared

Leaving some long grasses over winter, so that all sorts of Butterfly larvae can shelter and subsist in them – some coming out to eat a bit if there’s a warm spell. Not using pesticides, herbicides and even fertilizers – keep it as organic and peat free as possible (to help stop global warming and keep valuable peat CO2 sinks elsewhere in the world). Grow trees – for Speckled Woods – I had a visiting Speckle Wood this year! Dream come true.

Prize for spotting it here in the long grass by the wildlife pond…My first Speckled

But it’s more than that – it’s feeling the connectedness with them. They are not just beautiful and getting rarer, they are part of the eco systems that we and our govt and local councils and cars seem set to rubbish into oblivion. (If you follow me on twitter you’ll have heard me say: this govts Net Zero Strategy has been challenged by Friends of the Earth and found at High Court to be woefully and illegally inadequate. What are they doing about it? Nothing. Not Liz Truss not my MP in DEFRA – Nothing.

nature connectedness is a thing: https://www.derby.ac.uk/research/centres-groups/nature-connectedness-research-group/ and it’s kind of as if not more important than connecting in with ourselves, to feel what we really feel. Looking at this govt, well I wouldn’t want to put those emotions into words….

Kind of means it’s up to us! Chris Packham in the opening of my new butterfly book by Peter Eeles says it’s about the excitement, too – to spot a rare or beautiful butterfly is a very fine thing!

Orange tip seen earlier this year

It only takes a moment – or fifiteen, I’ve found, taking part in the Big Butterfly Count. https://www.wcl.org.uk/the-big-butterfly-count-2022.asp There’s still this evening!

Sitting quietly, or looking around, spotting fluttering creatures that I hadn’t previously seen were so close to me – wow, those are special moments. Tapping in – tuning in to the roundabout greenery, first I notice all the comings and goings of bees and hover flies (and moths that look like hoverflies – I’ll never tell the difference @BerrieTree!) then spotting a specially large flapping fast irregular – its a Gatekeeper the one and only one that seems to have settled in my garden, keeping me company.

Sadly the Speckled Wood hasn’t stopped here – I only saw it once, one afternoon – but oh the delight! Quite transporting, to use a Jane Austeny type word! I’d been hoping they’d come, so feisty and funny and characterful they are… quite wonderful. They like dappled shade in clearings, so y garden must be nearly there, surrounded by tress and tall plants on three sides now…many be next year.

Like gardening, wildlife watching gives you hope. Hope in next year – even against the odds. Joy abounds when you see what you were looking for – be it a frog or a beautiful Painted Lady from Africa this year, or a Speckled Wood. Spellbound I was!

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