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A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies!

A Peacock butterfly perched on a white buddleia – isn’t he glorious?

I’ve neglected my garden shamefully, and it’s terribly overgrown and out of hand, so I’ve been out there this week trying to hack back the jungle. And on Wednesday my efforts were reward by the most beautiful and amazing sight – butterflies! Hundreds and hundreds of them on the buddleias. It was absolutely magical. Every bloom seemed to have two or three butterflies, and the air was full of them, flapping and fluttering and flying like a flock of birds, and they seemed huge. Mostly they were large whites, which were most uncooperative about being photographed, and spectacular peacocks, which were a little more helpful, but still jolly difficult to capture on camera. According to Webster’s online dictionary and thesaurus, there is a choice of collective nouns for groups of butterflies. They suggest a flight, a rabble, a flutter, a swarm or a kaleidoscope…so I thought I’d settle settle for kaleidoscope because it sounds so nice. 

And another Peacock butterfly, showing the underside of the wings. 
I have a couple of buddleias in the garden, which I acquired under the misapprehension that they would remain a manageable size – their nickname of butterfly bush lulled me into a false sense of security but they are not bushes at all. They are not small, and they are not slow-growing, as you might expect with a shrub. They are rampant, and have aspirations for the high life, and grow into tall trees, and spread, and spread and spread… not suitable for a small garden in any way, shape or form, but I am reluctant to cut them down because they are such an attraction for wildlife. And squeezed into the narrow space between our fence and the new housing development at one side of the very end of the garden are masses and masses of these monsters,  with flowers in all shades of lilac, purple and creamy white, and they were absolutely smothered in butterflies, and the air around them was thick with the insects.
Basking in the sunshine. The outspread wings of the Peacock
butterfly have the most incredible markings.
Sadly the trees on the other side of the fence were far too tall to get any pictures. I suppose you would need a telephoto lens for a successful shot, though I did consider getting the stepladder out, but I’m terribly clumsy so it seemed to be asking for trouble!
This small butterfly on the golden hop is a Comma.
Anyway, I did get a few decent shots of Peacock butterflies on the smaller buddleias in the garden, and I managed to get a picture of a small orange and brown butterfly basking on my golden hop, which I bought because a) It looks like sunshine, and b) It is really called Humulus Lupulus, which I think is such a wonderful name. Anyway, I had quite some problems identifying this butterfly, so in the end I copied the photo, and blew it up as big as I could, and then realised the lone visitor has the distinctive raggedy wings of a Comma. And, just to clinch matters, the larvae feed on Humulus Lupulus (among other things).
I’ve tried to crop the photo to get a bigger image, so you
can see the raggedy edges of the wings.
The glory in the garden lasted a couple of days. from early morning until dusk, when the butterflies were drowsy and bumbled through the air as if they were drunk – and perhaps they were, drunk on all that nectar they’d consumed! There were lots of bees as well, all collecting pollen, but they were a bit overshadowed by the butterflies. By yesterday (Friday) they had all disappeared, the blooms had turned brown and were obviously dying, and the weather had taken a turn for the worse, damp and cloudy, with an almost autumnal chill in the air. I suppose the insects are laying eggs ready to be transformed into more of these beautiful, delicate creatures next Spring, and the trees will produce seeds which will be scattered and fall to the ground to produce new growth… so the cycle of life continues!
Bee happy… Hopefully, this is a honey bee, but I don’t know
enough about them to even guess at the species.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mummy.

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Author:

I'm a former journalist and sub-editor who loves needlework, reading and writing, and is still searching for the Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. Until I find the answer I'm volunteering at an Oxfam Book Shop and learning about Creative Sketchbooks!

27 thoughts on “A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies!

  1. Lovely photos, Christine! We've had lots of butterflies too – the buddlias are a great attraction for them. I think a kaleidoscope is the perfect term for them.

    Oh, and my Saturday Snapshot is also of a Peacock Butterfly!!!

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  2. Butterflies are hard to photograph! It's been wonderful this year to see the butterflies appear as soon as the hot weather started. There are clouds of them here and, like you, I have to look some of them up. I think a lot are Meadow Browns. Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Peacock I know, but some are still waiting to be identified.

    Buddlejas are awful plants apart from the butterfly attraction, IMO. They need cutting down every spring, leaving you with a huge amount of wood to dispose of, then they shoot up and look horrible until they flower.

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  3. Cutting them back seems to encourage growth – basically, I suppose, it's pruning. I do try to contain them, but I don't seem to be succeeding. I only keep them because they attract such a host of insects – bees, as well as butterflies, and all kinds of other things.

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  4. I think the peacocks must be the biggest British butterfly – they are certainly the most exotic, and about the breed I can identify with ease! Most of them are much smaller, and when I search to find out what they are, there always seem to be lots of them that look so similar it's impossible to put a name to them!

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  5. Butterflies are probably even more difficult than birds to photograph, but what a wonderful sight that must have been. That peacock butterfly is fantastic. A kaleidoscope of them would have been astonishing.

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  6. What a great site to see… hundreds of butterflies! I have not seen many in my yard this year even though I've planted butterfly bush, bee balm, milk weed and even extra parsley which the Swallowtails love. I always cut back the butterfly bush in the spring so it doesn't take over, maybe I should let it get bigger.

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  7. I can't decide if it was perfect weather for the butterflies, ot the buddleias were at that perfect point for the butterflies to feed, or whether they ere at a particular point in their development, but it seems odd that everywhere so many of them were on these plants at the same time.

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  8. What beautiful butterflies and great shots! I love watching butterflies and sometimes my DH and I do one of the short cruises that stop at Key West just so we can visit the Butterfly Garden there. Your shots just make me smile. Thanks.

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