Friday, 19 September 2008

Not so bad

People have started talking about a 'bad butterfly summer.' It's certainly been a bad summer generally, but as for butterflies, I disagree. Since I failed physics-with-chemistry O level and didn't even take biology, you can ignore me, but here is my reasoning. It has been a bad year for seeing butterflies. That does not mean that they are not there. In my own laboratory - our garden in Leeds - I have noticed how sunshine unfailingly brings out a good number of the 15-odd butterfly species which regularly visit. Rain and cold leads to their complete disappearance, but when the sun returns, so do they. Are the purveyors of the 'bad butterfly summer' theory going around looking for butterflies on the dull days (when the insects creep into crevices or under high-up leaves and are all but impossible to find?) I don't think so. I am sure that we consistently under-estimate the number of such things, and by so-doing add unnecessarily to the world's supply of gloom. Today's picture is part of my evidence. Late yesterday, the sun was confined to the top part of the west-facing wall of our house. There, sure enough, were the butterflies, including this coy Red Admiral. Earlier on in the day, when sunshine bathed the buddleias, they flocked there. They are as heliotropic as sunflowers, which the French commendably call tournesols.

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