Evening butterflies

Written by Lucy Brzoska

Swatting off scarlet and black mylabris beetles, I walked down to the horse paddocks.  Summer’s hit us like a sledgehammer, and mornings have been too hot to go out and look for butterflies (or anything).   In the mellow evening sun, among olive and carob trees, I looked around to see what was about.  Behind me, horses snorted and a Golden Oriole was calling.

Most of the scabious has gone to seed already, and the only flowers were thistles and stonecrop.  A Common Blue perched on a dried flower head, slowly turning in a semi-circle, as if to make sure all sections of the audience got a full view of its violet shimmer.

common-blue-polyommatus-icarus

No sooner had the Common Blue flown, its place was immediately taken by a Long-tailed Blue.  It shifted its wings, but kept them closed, a beige slip of a butterfly.  In no hurry to move, it let me get close and see the “face” in the corner – the imitation antenna and eye spots.

longtailed-blue-lampides-boeticus

When I got too close for comfort and the Long-tailed Blue moved on, I noticed something magnificent further up the slope, motionless on a wild carrot flower.  I approached carefully, commando-style.  After staring so long at the diminutive Longtailed Blue, the sheer size of the Swallowtail, boldly outlined in black, was impressive.  Its abdomen hung down like a paper lantern.

swallowtail-papilio-machaon

One of the benefits of hunkering down quietly in the grass for ages is that you pass unnoticed.  Over in the horse paddock, I watched a rabbit stop to scratch its back.  It lost patience and rolled over to rub the elusive spot, legs in the air.  All around sparrows were taking dust baths.  The rabbit suddenly detected my presence and froze, white tum stretched out, before bounding off into the trees.