Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stewartby Lake - southern clay area.

I can't believe that this is my first record of Green Hairsteak butterfly in Bedfordshire, though it has to be said that they're not common. The closest location I've seen them before is La Brenne in France! This was one of at least five that I came across. It's a male and it was holding territory on this particular patch of Hawthorn, setting off now and again in pursuit of suitors encroaching on his territory, and engaging in spectacular dogfights, before returning to his perch, characteristically angling his wings to catch the full benefit of the sunshine! I love his stripey socks and the orange tips to his antennae, apart from his dramatic green livery!

The stance of this one reminds me of one of those famous Viennese Lipizzaner stallions! Incredibly, this individual most probably hatched from deep within an ants' nest. Like all members of this particular family, the Green Hairstreak chrysalis attracts ants in the Autumn, indeed it seems they can't resist it. As one source says, 'Not only do the ants lick the secretions that ooze over the hairy, brown cuticle, but they also appear to be attracted, or at least appeased, by the cluckings and churring made by the chrysalis's sound organ...the loudness of these stridulations are clearly audible to the human ear as a series of squeaks. Indeed, it was in this species that the extraordinary phenomenon was first noted, over 200 years ago.'

So, if you're in Green Hairstreak territory in the Autumn, and hear curious squeaking noises at your feet, you know what you're looking for! But what I want to know is how they manage to get out of the ants' nest??

This is a male Eupeodes luniger Hoverfly - they are very common at the moment, and probably will be throughout the year...notice the lunules on the abdomen which give this fly its name.

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