Penny and I much enjoyed visiting the Felix Valloton exhibition which has just opened at the Royal Academy - a wonderful collection of paintings and woodcuts of 'disquiet', illustrating the hypocritcal sexual mores of the loatre 19th century Parisian bourgeoisie. This may seem a far cry from moths and butterflies but it came to mind immediately when I chanced on the courtship of two Small Tortoiseshell butterflies shown below.
Like the gents in Valloton's artwork, the male Small Tortoiseshell had only one thing on his mind and, working clockwise from top left, he went for it. The conditions in terms of sunshine, erotic warmth and a leafy, discreet retreat were ideal for his purpose. Elsewhere, during a blissful afternoon, there were too for mine.
Although this is a moths blog, I am a sucker for butterflies as much as anyone else and the wide borders and woodland adjacent to a big field of organic barley near our house are superb for butterfly hunting at the moment. Here are some of the results, before we get on to an equally rewarding, warm night of moth visitors to the light trap:
|Small Skipper, with brown antennae which distinguish it for the layman from the very similar Essex Skipper with which it often flies.|
|Meadow Brown, probably the commonest species in this locality.|
|Essex Skipper, with black tips to its antennae. This species is so like the Small Skipper that they were recorded together until 1889 when the Essex Skipper was recognised - the last British butterfly to be identified and named.|
|Battered female Common Blue|
|Large Skipper topwings|
|Large Skipper underwing|
Other arrivals included the lovely Swallowtailed Moth below, along with the Tawny-barred Angle, an infrequent visitor, the small but striking micro Pseudargyrotoza convagarna and a Scarlet Tiger, somewhat careworn and zonked but very fine all the same.