Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Sing the blues

On with the butterflies of Tarn - and please don't feel that you are missing any moths. It's very far from trapping weather here as you may have seen on the news. Over the moors in Hebden Bridge, they're busy clearing more than 500 tonnes of debris which cascaded down into the town as roads turned into waterfalls after getting the whole of July's average rain in three hours.

Happier matters: I often go on about the absence of blue in moths. That doesn't apply to butterflies as I hope these little jewels show. France has an impressive number of Blues but I am fairly sure that the first three pictures here are of the Common one which is also widely found in the UK, although very seldom in my part of Leeds. Here is an in-your-face, all-blue male, a beautifully subtle female and the male's underwing.

The next two pictures are not examples of brilliant photography, but I'm including them for the record. The first is another female, I think of a different type of blue because it was browner and smaller, and the second a paparazzi-style snatch shot of a Holly Blue-type with a powder blue underwing, which refused to come nearer to me than the top of a bramble-infested hedge. Can you spot it?

The blues belong to Lycaena family, which takes its name from the Greek word λικαενα which means a she-wolf. Why? I'm afraid the namer, William Elford Leach, died in 1836 but even if he were still here, I doubt he'd tell you. He named nine other insects after a woman called Caroline, some using her name and others composed of anagrams of it. But he never let on who she was. He also named no fewer than 29 after a friend of his called Mr Cranch.

I'm just going to end with another picture of that beautiful female Common Blue. Who needs Caroline?

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