Monday, 25 April 2016

Comma, Life Cycle

 Female Commas normally lay there ovum [eggs] on the edge of Nettle leaves and are fairly easy to find but, can be mistaken for a Red Admiral's ovum,  [who also lay their ovum on Nettle leaves and, sometimes on the edge of the leaf] as both are very much alike. The contents of the ovum are green when first laid. Then after about 8 days the contents turn a light greenish yellow and eventually you can see the tiny larva through the skin/membrane of the ovum at least 24 hours before the larva emerges, as the membrane/skin of the ovum is transparent. There are 2 broods.
Comma ovum after about 8 eight days, now a light
greenish yellow in colour
Comma ovum after 12 days, the tiny larva  is quite visible
through the transparent membrane/skin of the ovum
This stage can last anywhere between about 12-21 days depending on the weather conditions, hot, cold etc.

On the 13th day, this particular larva emerged, [the time scale for emerging larva does vary].

A newly emerged 1st instar larva
Once the larva have emerged they make their way to the back of the Nettle leaf, where they eat and rest-up,  right up to the stage of the 3rd instar larva.

2nd instar Comma larva on the back of a Nettle leaf
Once they reach the 4th and 5th instar larva they become more exposed.

Final instar Comma larva
The larval stage lasts about 3 weeks, [but does vary in both broods] and there are 5 instars  [4 moults] with the 1st brood in the Spring, and 4 instars [3 moults] with the 2nd brood in the summer. When the final instar larva is ready to pupate it will find a suitable stem, twig etc and, make a Cremaster which it will attach itself to with a number of tiny hooks at the bottom of it's abdomen, hanging up-side down.
 Final instar Comma larva ready for pupation
This particular stage lasted 10 days, but the weather was extremely warm for this particular pupa, and the period of pupation can last longer.

Comma pupa, the butterfly emerged after 10 days, but this does vary
When the butterfly eventually emerges it can take a couple of hours before he/she to completely dry out and, be able to fly.

The 1st brood are most likely to produce the Aberration Hutchinsoni which normally emerge late June, early July.
Comma, female ab. Hutchinsoni
 Comma showing the upper side of it' wings
Comma showing the undersides of it's wings

Monday, 18 April 2016

Orange-tip female on purple..

Female Orange-tip taken in my garden

Purple Hairstreak 1st instar caterpillar

 The ovum, [eggs] of the Purple Hairstreak are laid just below an Oak leaf bud in the Summer and overwinter at this stage.
Purple Hairstreak ovum
The larva emerge in the Spring, early April.

April 2nd the tiny larva has just started to eat it's way out 
After the tiny 1st instar larva hatch they normally eat their way into a leaf bud where it feeds completely hidden, but this is not always the case. As you can see in the following photos.

This 1st instar larva has just emerged [first day, April 3rd] and already started to eat it's
way into a leaf bud
By the second day the 1st instar purple Hairstreak larva has taken on a totally new appearance
and, in this case has chosen to feed/live on the outside of the Oak leaf bud instead of being
concealed with-in the bud
This 1st instar Purple Hairstreak larva at 6 days has changed in appearance again and,
will stay like this until it's first moult when it will become a 2nd instar larva
After the first moult the 2nd, 3rd and 4th instars all feed in the open, but are very difficult to locate.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Silver-washed Fritillary ovum

 The female Silver-washed Fritillary normally lays her ovum [eggs] on the north facing side of a moss covered trunk of an Oak Tree, about 60cm of the ground. The larva emerge after 3 weeks and after eating the empty egg, immediately bury themselves deep down in a small hole/crevice in the Bark of the Tree and then spin a silk pad,  that they overwinter in. Emerging in the Spring.
Freshly laid Silver-washed Fritillary ovum
Silver-washed Fritillary ovum after 2 weeks
This Silver-washed Fritillary ovum has been
sucked dry

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

A beautiful Blue

Male Common Blue 3rd August 2015

The emergence of 2 hibernating Butterflies [rescued]

I found a small Tortoiseshell last November [2015] flying about my kitchen when i arrived home from work. So after catching it, without causing any damage to this fragile insect i placed it in a small container which, i then placed in the fridge so it could hibernate through the winter months safely. Over four months later at the beginning of April when the temperature was suitable for the butterfly to be flying [about 14 degrees centigrade] i released the Small Tortoiseshell in my garden on a lovely warm Spring day. I carefully placed it on a small stick, at first it just sat there with it's wings closed.

Small Tortoiseshell just out of hibernation  taking in the warmth of the sun
But eventually the butterfly spread it's wings open, drowning in the warmth of the sun and, furiously vibrating its wings, just the same way a Bee will, to warm it's body to the correct temperature and so enable it to fly. Between 6-7 minutes later the Small Tortoiseshell took it's first flight for over four months and disappeared into the Surrey countryside.

The Small Tortoiseshell just before taking it's first flight for over 4 months
A male Peacock was rescued from a building that was being demolished a couple of months ago near to my home by Keith a friend of mine who gave me the butterfly for safe keeping. So again i place the butterfly in a small container, and again popped in my fridge until Spring. It was released on the same day as the Small Tortoiseshell, [Saturday, 2nd April 2016]. I placed the opened container in a lovely sunny position in the garden.

The male Peacock half in, half out of the container it spent the last couple of months in, in my fridge
taking in he warm comforting rays of the sun before successfully fly away
Again the Peacock opened it's wings after a couple of minutes and began like the Small Tortoiseshell, furiously vibrating it's out stretched wings, building it's body temperature up. Then again after 6-7 minutes it too flew away.