|The lovely topside. The name comes from 'admirable' rather than some butterfly-hunting seadog. Hence my headline today and yesterday (when I forgot to make this point)|
It's our first Red Admiral, perhaps the loveliest and best-loved of the 60-odd species which are all that niggardly Nature has given this country in the way of butterflies. Extremely beautiful, it is also common as muck, unlike its White counterpart featured in yesterday's post. Everyone in the UK will see one at some stage in their lives, most of us every year.
They hatch at about the time that the equally common buddleia comes into bloom, with its swags of honey-scented purple flowers which Red Admirals, Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and their immigrant relations, Painted Ladies, find irresistible. I knew they were about because they have a much swifter and more powerful way of flying than the Whites and Browns which have been here in great numbers for the last couple of months.
This year's debut is particularly well-timed because Friday sees the start of a BBC TV Springwatch special on garden butterflies and this grand Red Admiral, left, is being used as cover boy, or girl, in promotional material. Ours nearly had a tragically short life. It flew indoors early yesterday and we didn't discover it until the early afternoon, by which time it was starting to wilt. A bit of towel flicking and Guardian-flapping steered it back into the fresh air, and off it soared.
I will just add a mothy PS, because it's another example of the coincidences which have been a feature of my posts this summer. I ended the last one with a reference to pistachio nuts. Late last night, amid radio clamour about the Royal baby and with the trap packed away for fear of thunderstorms, this moth flew in through the kitchen window. Its resting place was...our emergency nibble stash of pistachios (the little hand belongs to a whirling Dervish on the bowl which Penny and I bought in Istanbul).
Initially I thought it was a Neglected Rustic, a name straight out of Thomas Hardy, but I'm opting instead for another coincidence: it's a Ruby Tiger, a moth whose caterpillar was featured here on 12 July and identified by expert Dave Shenton. If I'm wrong, I'm relying on Dave again to correct me.