Rare subtropical butterfy and moth in Belgium and the Netherlands


Oleander hawk-moth

The Butterfly Foundation in the Netherlands reports today about two subtropical insect species, seen recently in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The oleander hawk-moth was seen in Ostend in Belgium.

This video is about a geranium bronze butterfly (Cacyreus marshalli).

The geranium bronze butterfly is originally from South Africa, but was transported to the Mediterranean region. On 27 August Frank van der Putte saw it on an allotment near Middelburg in the Dutch Zeeland province.

Monarch butterfly migration starting in North America


This video is about monarch butterfly migration.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

The Monarch Butterflies Migrating Now Aren’t The Ones You Saw Last Spring

Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2014 by eNature

Fall is just around the corner throughout most of North America.

You’ve probably noticed that your local birds are preparing for it— and so are our many of our butterflies.

Monarch butterflies are famous for their annual migrations. Some of these insects travel thousands of miles each fall—an astonishing distance for such fragile creatures.

Yet few people realize that the Monarchs we see in the spring are not necessarily the same ones that fluttered past in the fall.

Beginning in late September, the skies along the Gulf Coast of Texas slowly become filled with meandering groups of Monarchs. Their flight, while not hurried, is purposeful, moving southwest toward a small forest in the highlands of Central Mexico. These butterflies travel from southern Canada and the northern United States at a rate of approximately 50 miles per day. They’ll spend the winter in a few small groves of evergreen trees, with each grove containing as many as 20 million butterflies. Sheltered from the wind and snow, the butterflies conserve energy, for they still have a lot of work ahead of them.

The Monarchs become active again in February. Mating begins, and the air fills with swirling masses of copulating pairs. The first warm days of late March trigger their northward flight. A close look at these butterflies, now eight months old, reveals that their wings are faded and tattered. Still, the Monarchs fan out across the southern United States, looking for Milkweed plants on which to deposit their eggs.

Four days later, the eggs hatch, producing small caterpillars that immediately begin to feed on the Milkweed leaves. Ten to fifteen days later, each caterpillar stops feeding and forms its chrysalis—a beautiful soft green jewel flecked with gold. In another ten to fifteen days the chrysalis splits open, and a new Monarch emerges.

This generation of butterflies mates, lays eggs, and dies within the span of a few weeks. During this time it moves north, following the progress of spring and the emergence of Milkweed.

By the end of summer, two more of these short-lived generations will have repeated the process, ultimately coming to inhabit the Milkweed patches in the far north latitudes.

Thus the Monarchs born in the Northeast and Canada in September are the great great grandchildren of the last Monarchs to inhabit the area. These are the ones that will head to Mexico. They’re significantly larger than the three generations that preceded them and still sexually immature. Rather than mate and lay eggs, they seek out nectar-producing flowers. The nectar serves two purposes: some of it fuels the southward migration, and some of it is converted to fat reserves that sustain the butterflies through the winter.

This incredible annual cycle applies to all Monarchs east of the Rockies. The populations in the West follow a similar pattern, though their migratory path is westward, from the Great Basin to overwintering sites along the Pacific Coast.

Since 1992 MonarchWatch has been carefully tracking Monarch Butterflies as they migrate.  Much of their data comes from the work of volunteers who tag and track the butterflies. They can always use more helpers…..

Are you seeing butterflies in your neighborhood?

Rare butterflies wintering in the Netherlands


This is a scarce tortoiseshell video from Finland.

In July 2014, there was an invasion in the Netherlands of scarce tortoiseshell butterflies; a species, new for the Netherlands.

Soon, people did not see these rare, usually east European, butterflies any more. Did they fly on to England, or to Belgium? A few scarce tortoiseshells were seen there indeed; but how about all the others?

On 2 August 2014, warden Luc Knijnsberg was in Dutch nature reserve Bergen Zuid. Then, a thunderstorm started. Luc entered an old World War II bunker, now used by bats for wintering. In that bunker, he found thirteen wintering peacock butterflies (yes, August is a summer month, but for some butterflies, winter then starts already). Luc found not only peacocks, a common species, but to his surprise also two scarce tortoiseshells. So, this solved the riddle why so many of them arrived in the Netherlands; and so few in Belgium or England.

So, people counting wintering bats should look out for scarce tortoiseshells as well.

Rare butterflies in the Netherlands


This video from the Czech republic says about itself:

Large Copper – Lycaena dispar (Haworth, 1803) – male

Large Copper – Lycaena dispar (Haworth, 1803) is quite common in SE Moravia where I live and expands from there to the North and also to the West.

SE Moravian population is a part of the continuous range from there to the north of Greece and through Russia to the Far East.

In SE Moravia lives its subspecies Lycaena dispar rutilus (Werneburg, 1864).

Dorsal side of male’s pterygia is fire red with goldy yellow lustre and black comma on the front pterygies.

There are three large copper subspecies. The subspecies rutilus, or rutila, of the video lives in large parts of Europe and Asia.

The subspecies batava lives only in the Dutch provinces Overijssel and Friesland.

The third, smallest, subspecies, Lycaena dispar carueli lives only in the Ardennes hills in the south of Belgium.

The Dutch Butterfly Trust reports today about rare butterfly species. They write that on 8 August 2014, a Lycaena dispar carueli butterfly was seen in Limburg province, closest to the Ardennes in the Netherlands. This was the first time ever for this subspecies.

This video from the Czech republic is called High Brown Fritillary – Argynnis adippe – perleťovec prostřední.

In Groningen province, recently a high brown fritillary was seen. Ever since 1976, only a few vagrants of that species had been recorded in the Netherlands. Maybe, this Groningen butterfly came from the Ardennes as well?

Comma butterfly and fly, video


This video is about a fly, laying an egg in a pupa of a comma butterfly in Plantloon nature reserve in the Netherlands.

Christ Grootzwagers made the video.

Purple emperor butterflies in England


This is a video about a purple emperor butterfly feeding in France.

By Peter Frost in England:

Emperor brought down to earth by shrimp paste

Friday 8th August 2014

Peter Frost reveals a secret ritual designed to enhance the survival chances of the rarest of butterflies

At the end of July and for the early days of August something really unusual is happening in Fermyn Woods in the Rockingham Forest between Corby and Kettering in Northamptonshire.

Beneath the high trees, members of a quaintly named organisation called the Purple Empire arrange a special breakfast for some exotic and beautiful inhabitants.

Chief item on the menu will be shrimp paste and members of the Empire have scoured oriental supermarkets and food shops seeking out the most pungent and malodorous varieties.

So who is guest of honour at this morning feast? Why no one less than Britain’s second largest, and most spectacular butterfly — the aptly named Purple Emperor (Apatura iris). Only male butterflies are invited to the feast.

Spectacular the emperor might be, but it is also spectacularly difficult to observe. The colourful males flit high in the tree tops waiting to lure a dull female virgin to mate.

Generations of amateur but skilful lepidopterists have discovered the gloriously coloured male butterflies can be lured down, into camera range by, of all things, smelly and tasty shrimp paste.

There are several reasons why the Fermyn Woods are one of the best places to see this spectacular insect.

The woods are marshy and full of Goat Willow (Salix caprea) and Grey Willow (Salix cinerea) trees, the favourite food plants of the purple emperor’s caterpillars.

The other reason is the pioneering work by one of our greatest countryside writers and illustrators, Denys Watkins-Pitchford, who wrote wonderfully evocative country and children’s books under the pen-name BB.

Like many other wildlife writers BB had realised the huge dangers of excessive usage of DDT and other insecticide sprays so common in the ’60s and ’70s.

He realised they were destroying species like the purple emperor as well as other insects, birds and animals further up the food chain.

Watkins-Pitchford had another far more intensely personal reason for his attitude to agricultural chemical abuse.

In 1974 his wife Cecily became unwell after working in their garden while a farmer was spraying his fields next door. She died a few weeks later.

In the very garden the couple had shared the writer built huge muslin cages where he bred the purple emperor, nicknamed “His Majesty” by butterfly fans. He bought the species back from the edge of extinction.

A male emperor is without doubt one of the most elegant of all our butterflies. From some angles the wings look black with white bands — then as the sunlight catches the wing scales they light up with an amazing regal purple sheen.

The female is a deep brown and does not have any of the showy colour of the male.

If you want to spot an emperor the best time is early morning or in late afternoon. It is then that the males will occasionally flutter down to feed on animal dung, carrion, or even that tempting shrimp paste. This extra diet provides the emperor with much needed salts and minerals.

Males will sometimes spend over an hour feeding in the same place.

They are often found in woodland car parks landing on wet muddy cars.

Strangely they also enjoy sweaty humans and can often land on thrilled watchers to drink beads of salty perspiration.

Most of the time, however, they will be out of sight high in tree canopy feeding on aphid honeydew.

The males tend to congregate in very large oak trees they have used for generations. From such a high point, perhaps on the top of a hill, the males wait to pounce on passing females.

The males vying for the best and highest perches battle it out with purple wings flashing in the sun. It is a wildlife spectacular you will never forget.

When a dowdy virgin female flits by the pair fly off and settle high in the canopy to mate.

Mating over, she flies down to earth while he returns to his high emperor’s throne ready for another chance to pass on his DNA.

Meadow brown, other Texel butterflies


This is a meadow brown butterfly video.

Warden Erik van der Spek reports about butterflies on Texel island in the Netherlands.

The meadow brown is the most numerous Texel species.

Also, some close relatives live on the island: speckled wood, wall brown butterfly, small heath, ringlet (seen occasionally), marbled white and grayling.