This is a Comma butterfly.
I am VERY excited as I have never seen one in my garden before. I don’t think I have seen one anywhere before, apart from on other people’s blogs. I have never seen any butterfly so early in my garden either; it is usually late summer before I get so much of a glimpse. Even last year, when we had such a wonderful early spring, there were no butterflies to be seen until September.
So you can see why I was jumping about yesterday and running for my camera. I even felt the need to report it to our local Butterfly Conservation society. So far no reply – it is maybe not as special as I thought!
I believe the Comma was once quite rare in Scotland, but it is now spreading northwards, especially up the East coast. hence my viewing yesterday.
The Comma is a really pretty butterfly, easily identifiable by its ragged wing shapes. It is named because of the small white comma marks on the underside of its wings – unfortunately it didn’t stick around long enough for me to get a glimpse of these. Maybe it will be back today.
I felt a bit bad as I didn’t have many flowers it might have liked in the garden and it had to settle on an old wooden bird table. Even the nettles are not up yet. I have been trying to find some Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ plants that all butterflies seem to love, but so far with no success.
Comma butterflies can appear in Spring and again in Summer. There are two distinct types, the ones emerging in Spring are more orange than the others. This one is likely to have overwintered as a butterfly – I wonder where it was hiding. The caterpillars like to eat hops, but if that is not available they will eat nettles or Elm. I have no hops, but I do have a patch of nettles at the back of my border and I even have an Elm tree. Perhaps I should plant some hops?
I have just had a look at hop growing and we certainly have some of the conditions here: cold winters and lots of water, but the sunlight might be a problem. However as I would be growing them for the butterflies rather than for the beer it might be possible. It sounds as if they can grow to twenty feet though so I would need to find a dwarf variety. Does anyone have any experience of growing hops?
I am rather lacking in a good high fence or wall in full sun, but will have to give it some thought. I wonder if they would grow up and over the garage roof? Mind you if the butterflies up here have changed their diet, it would be a waste of time. A bit like all the Niger seeds that I bought for the Goldfinches who just ignore them and just eat the Sunflower seeds I put out for the other birds!
The sun is not out yet today, but I will still be taking a few walks around the garden – in the hope of catching another glimpse, especially underneath the wings. Wish me luck!