Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly - Insect mini-series

Here is story number 5 in my insect mini-series

Small Tortoiseshells and Peacock Butterfly (West Cork, ROI)
It was all a bit much. Bad enough that he had to endure all the other Small Tortoiseshells muscling in on his chosen Buddleia, but the Peacock interloper was one lepidoptera too far.

He watched the activity from his solitary perch with a jaundiced compound eye. The other Tortoiseshells were feeding close together, probing the flowers for nectar with their long proboscises. When the Peacock arrived they had merely budged up a bit. He, on the other hand, had flown off to an upper level.

It didn’t take him long to realise the advantages of his elevated position: he could observe the females and spot likely candidates to lure into his territory close to the nettle patch.
The nettles played an important role in the mating business because female Small Tortoiseshells preferred to lay their eggs on the underside of nettle leaves. The territory he had already scouted out beside the nettles was surely irresistible.
Etiquette dictated that he should wait in his territory until a female entered it before he started wooing her. However, if he spotted a potential mate, perhaps he could make an early start at the courtship procedure on the Buddleia itself. He hadn’t tried this strategy before. It was risky. Courtship entailed approaching a female from behind and drumming his antennae on her hindwings. She wouldn’t be expecting it while she was feeding and might react as if she’d been goosed. Still… he who dares…

A fetching looking female alighted to feed on a flower below him. He landed beside her. Now he just had to summon his courage.


  1. You're not going to leave it there, are you? Write a sequel NOW!

  2. He he - you'll have to wait and see, Lizy.

  3. How can she resist? Those gorgeous flowers, sunshine, drumming antennae ... enough to turn any girl's head.

  4. Quite! I think we can safely assume that he succeeded with her. :)

  5. The sequel? Welcome to my high-rise nettle nursery!! ;-)
    PS - I've counted 17 ST's in one small area before... and 6 competing Red Admirals!

  6. Hi - thanks for looking in on my insect mini-series. 17 small tortoiseshells and 6 red admirals in one hit is wonderful. I need to plant a Buddleia in my new garden because I haven't seen many butterflies here yet.


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