With most of my butterfly posts I tend to highlight subjects that are rather beautiful or quite rare, sometimes both. There is one family that I have not featured very much. These are the ones that when we are out in the countryside Mrs H will call another of them little brown jobs, the Satyridae. So time to give them a moment of fame, and to be honest I have, er, ‘one or two’ images of them as I find them attractive. These are nearly all species of high summer. Their caterpillars eat various grasses, 2018 was very hot and dry and it is thought this might have an impact on numbers this coming year, we shall have to wait and see.
The Meadow Brown is the largest of the Satyridae with a wingspan of around 2 inches (50mm), it is also the UK’s most abundant butterfly. Pictured above is the female, the males are much darker with only a smudge of orange around the eyespot.
Also called the Hedge Brown. Both names are very apt as this butterfly is mostly found around these features. It is smaller than the Meadow Brown at approx 1 3/4 inches (42mm) and with the wings closed can be confused with that species. The i.d features are two white ‘pupils’ in eyespots and diagnostically the small white spots on the lower wing. With it’s wings open there is no mistake as it’s washed with orange.
This has always been a favourite of mine. Memories of childhood as we played in the country lanes and this chocolate brown butterfly would lazily flit along the flower strewn verges.
Usually very annoying in trying to get photographs of. The Small Heath has a tendency to keep low, hidden among the grasses. It is the smallest of the browns at less than 1 1/2 inches (35mm).
The longest flight period of all the Satyridae from early April to October. This species loves shady woodland, if there is a small area lit by sunlight a male will defend this as his territory.
To finish a bit of a curve ball, not all browns are brown! This beautiful butterfly is spreading it’s range. One day I hope to see them in my home County, they are not too far away.
One feature of all the Satyridae are the eyespots or ocelli. These are thought to act as a warning to potential predators. Some species of butterfly have more complex and convincing ‘eyes’, if you would like to learn more fellow blogger Ray has written an excellent post https://rcannon992.com/2018/11/04/dots-in-spots-butterfly-eyespots-i-conspicuousness-or-eye-mimicry/
And while we in the northern hemisphere will have to wait a couple more months for butterflies to appear it is cheering to read of a mini migration in South Africa at Ark’s place https://attaleuntold.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/it-fluttered-by-25/