Tuesday, 31 May 2016

What a welcome

The trap should be on again tonight after our time away in Rome, during which I've kept posting courtesy of blogspot.it. Grazie mille! But I doubt there'll be anything in it quite as handsome as the lovely Swallowtail, above, which greeted us on the terrace of our air bnb.

The pic is a photo of our camera's playback and I'll replace it with the original when we get home. I've seen this marvellous butterfly quite a few times on holidays in mainland Europe. In the UK, it's confined to parts of the East Anglian fens and is rare even there.

There may be a secret colony in Yorkshire, though, because some 20 years ago, I brought back some caterpillars which I found on fennel in the garden of one of the chateaux of the Loire. They chrysalised and a couple of them hatched in the playground of our boys' primary school, an amazing process - especially with this butterfly which is the UK's biggest - which was watched by the delighted children.

People were watching Swallowtails hundreds of years ago too, as shown by these details from the Renaissance frescoes in the Papal apartments at Castel Sant'Angelo. Given the fading which comes with time, I think that they may be an artist's shot at the species which nectared daintily on our roof terrace's flowers: Papilio machaon.

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