National Insect Week 2014

Bee, Public footpath from Blisland Churchyard

I love few things better than walking or sitting in a wildflower meadow on a sunny day, smelling the fresh green scents, feeling the soft brush of the grass, and surrounded by buzzing, chirping and fluttering bees, butterflies, crickets, grasshoppers, hoverflies, damselflies and so many more of our insect neighbours, nectaring, perching or performing their courtship flights in a beautiful display. The more you sit still and listen, the more deeply you can tune into the different layers of sound and scent. Wonderful!

Azure damselfly (photo: Amanda Scott)
Azure damselfly (photo: Amanda Scott)

It’s National Insect Week from 23 to 29 June. Run annually by the British Entomological Society, there are events going on around the country: follow this link here to find any close to where you live. There are some in Cornwall and other parts of the South-west.

The warm weather is perfect for seeing insects buzzing and flying about, of course, although they are also much faster and more mobile than in cooler weather. The best time to see them more settled is early in the morning when they are still warming up from the cooler night temperatures, or later in the evening as the night draws near.

National Insect Week is a good excuse for some insect photos, so here goes – enjoy!

Red Admiral (photo: Amanda Scott)
Red Admiral (photo: Amanda Scott), spotted near Blisland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The furry wonderfulness of a Fox Moth caterpillar
The furry wonderfulness of a Fox Moth caterpillar (photo: Amanda Scott). This fellow was meandering by the path at Goonhilly on the Lizard.
Grey Bush-cricket (photo: Amanda Scott). A coastal and fairly rare species, this one was spotted near Kynance Cove.
Grey Bush-cricket (photo: Amanda Scott). A coastal and fairly rare species, this one was spotted near Kynance Cove, posing on a rucksack strap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Demoiselle male (photo: Amanda Scott). I found tens of these by the River Fal at Tregony and Crowhill Valley Woods last week.
Beautiful Demoiselle male (photo: Amanda Scott). I found tens of these by the River Fal at Tregony and Crowhill Valley Woods last week.
Small Copper butterfly (photo: Amanda Scott)
Small Copper butterfly (photo: Amanda Scott).

 

A Red Admiral weekend

Friday just gone was a day of Small Tortoiseshells. My garden in West Cornwall was visited by tens of them enjoying a late summer feast on the buddleia – I was glad I hadn’t pruned it back already.

But then Saturday and today, Sunday, there was barely a Small Tortoiseshell in sight. Instead the garden was full of the striking beauty of several Red Admirals, again nectaring on the buddleia, but also seeking out ivy flowers and late summer bramble.

Red Admiral (photo: Amanda Scott)
Red Admiral (photo: Amanda Scott)

Butterflies seem so delicate, it is easy to forget that several species accomplish great feats of migration. The strong-flying Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) may have a small resident population in the south of the UK, but most of those we see each year have arrived from Europe and North Africa. The females lay eggs (usually on common nettle (Urtica dioica)) and UK-bred butterflies emerge from about July, but their numbers are swelled by several further waves of immigration during the summer. You can see them as late as October, occasionally later.

Our winters are generally too cold for this species to survive overwintering, possibly apart from the warmer south of the country (including Cornwall). Many adults will therefore attempt a southward migration as the weather cools. On a wildlife boat cruise out of Falmouth recently, while I was of course thrilled by the sunfish and porpoises, I was also delighted to see two Red Admirals a fair way out from shore, determinedly heading south away from the coast.

I hope they made it.

English: Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalan...
Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) feeding on Buddleia davidii (photo: Wikipedia)