Spring signs

In the butterfly world, signs of spring are often well concealed and most of the signs that are detectable are subtle and elusive. The glowing colours of the adult butterfly will only be seen later in the season in the case of most of our species so we must look hard for the signs that are available. Below are some of these signs. Let us imagine how these lead to greater glories as warmth returns.

Marsh Fritillary larvae bask together on their communal platform, warming each other to digest their food. Photo J.Harding
A close up of an individual Marsh Fritillary caterpillar feeding on the upper epidermis of a Devil’s-bit Scabious leaf. Photo J.Harding
This Marsh Fritillary caterpillar has just moulted and is now in its fifth instar. There are six instars in this species. When the sixth instar caterpillar has reached its full size it is ready to pupate. The pupa lasts around 2-3 weeks and the butterfly is usually seen from late May to late June. Photo J. Harding
Angle Shades larva. This caterpillar can be found in all months of the year. Photo J.Harding
Ruby Tiger caterpillars bask in spring. The moth is seen from May. Some specimens are a deep red, very striking when newly emerged. Photo J. Harding
The Hebrew Character is an early spring moth, flying from February. While not strikingly coloured, it reminds the dedicated moth watcher that brighter days imminent. Photo J.Harding
A Small Heath caterpillar, a rare sighting nowadays. This butterfly typically flies from May to August. Photo J.Harding
A male Common Quaker, an early spring flyer. This one was attracted to an outdoor light. This cryptically coloured moth is strictly nocturnal and is rarely seen, despite being quite common. Photo J. Harding
A reminder that nature is poised to take flight-this Large White chrysalis was formed on a window last autumn. The butterfly will emerge later this spring. Photo J.Harding