Smile! The world is a beautiful place (^_^)

2018-16

Today I saw several Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) butterflies! They usually fly from the beginning of April until the end of October – in three overlapping generations! Because they are able to overwinter in two totally separated development stages (Note 1), they have a complicated pattern of several adult flights per year.

Note 1: They enter the caterpillar stage between half May and half September. The growth speed differs significantly between them and some caterpillars grow as much as 3 times faster than others! Those will overwinter as pupae. The ones that emerge from the egg stage and become caterpillars in mid-August will spend the winter as half-grown larvae.

These butterflies are very territorial, and most of those I saw today were males engaged in battles (Note 2). This happens when one male has claimed a nice spot of sunlight that pierces through the trees and another male flies through his sunspot. Note that this only happens if the other male is of the same species, if a male of another kind of butterfly enters the spot he’s totally ignored. If a female flies through the sunspot, the male flies after and tries to mate with her. But otherwise he’ll remain in the same sunspot until the evening (he’ll follow the sunspot as it moves across the forest floor) and then spend the night high up in the trees.

Note 2: If you’ve never seen one of these battles and are now trying to picture what it looks like: to be honest, it looks kind of lame. The “resident” male flies towards the intruder, and then the pair flies upwards in a spiral pattern (no body contact). The one that keeps at it the longest wins. It’s usually over in a few seconds, but the longest documented battle between two male Speckled Wood butterflies went on for 94 minutes.

PS. One of my photos has been published on Natuurfotografie, the #1 platform for nature photography in The Netherlands and Belgium. If you can read Dutch, please take a look here.

16 responses

  1. Interesting article and wonderful photos. Congratulations on being published as well!

    April 22, 2018 at 12:41 PM

  2. Congratulations on the publication.

    April 22, 2018 at 1:09 PM

  3. Lovely! Great to see Camilla, I was out today and logged 10 species the best a Green Hairstreak (very photogenic)

    April 22, 2018 at 3:08 PM

    • Thanks so much, Brian! 🙂 Oh I can’t wait to see your pictures, sort them out and post your part 2!

      April 22, 2018 at 3:42 PM

  4. Glad you added the footnote about the actual fight, I was quite interested. Good thing they don’t drink. What great pics though and thanks for the interesting lesson as usual!

    April 22, 2018 at 3:15 PM

    • Thanks so much, Tony! 🙂 Maybe a few drinks would make the battles more interesting.

      April 22, 2018 at 3:43 PM

  5. These are beautiful photos! One of my favourite butterflies.

    April 22, 2018 at 3:41 PM

    • Thanks so much, Pete! 🙂 They are pretty and most of the time very cooperative with the camera- they get bonus points for that!

      April 22, 2018 at 3:44 PM

  6. Good pictures Camilla! I read the article in Natuurfotografie, but did not realise that it was the same Camilla. I found it quite interessting. Congratulatins for being published.

    April 22, 2018 at 6:54 PM

    • Thanks so much, Greta! 🙂 I’m super happy with the nice comments in the article!

      April 22, 2018 at 8:13 PM

  7. Hi, Camilla
    Many congratulations on being published. Richly deserved, I should add.
    These images are superb, and made so much more relevant by your additional text.
    When is the book due out? Save me a copy 😁
    All the best, John

    April 24, 2018 at 6:06 PM

    • Thanks so much, John! 🙂 I’m super happy with the article, so nice to get feedback like that! I’ve no pictures or text for the book yet, but I’m hoping for productive summers.. the next five years or so 😉 All the best to you and Daphne!

      April 24, 2018 at 6:55 PM

  8. Great photos and information, Camilla! I have read about very simialr life cycles in some of our US butterflies – they are complex creatures! And I have watched them do battle, maybe a little lame, but fun to see. If only humans could battle without body contact….
    Congratulations on being featured, it’s well deserved. I can’t read a word of Dutch but I checked it out – very nice!!

    April 30, 2018 at 9:28 PM

    • Thanks so much, Lynn! 🙂 Yes, if only! Our world would be a much more peaceful place..

      May 2, 2018 at 12:41 PM

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