The Queen of the Broads is on the wing and surveying her realm! A visit to Hickling Broad this morning and I discovered that the sun has brought out the first of our largest and most spectacular butterflies, the Swallowtail (Papillo machaon ssp britannicus). With a wingspan of 76-93mm (3-3 3/4 inches) (the males are smaller) this is a beautiful insect.
In the UK this butterfly can only be found in the Norfolk Broads where it’s mostly seen gliding over the vast reedbeds. The caterpillars eat only milk parsley which grow among the reeds, the pupae can survive the winter partially submerged, and the adults will emerge late May till July and prefer warm days with little wind. As it has been rather cool and windy the last few days I was surprised to see at least eight.
I had gone to the Broad to look for dragonflies and got rather side-tracked, but there were good numbers of Four Spotted Chasers and Hairy Hawkers about.