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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015 - Butterflies 'G'

G - Gatekeeper and Grayling

These are two brown butterflies, mostly brown with black spots and white markings resembling eyes on their wings The eye spots are to confuse their enemies.

The Gatekeeper is known by two other names


Gatekeeper butterfly (Pyronia tithonus)
Its second name of Hedge Brown indicates its favourite habitat while Small Meadow Brown shows it is closely related to the Meadow Brown.

That eye spot may also be seen on the underside of its wings.

Gatekeeper feeding on thistle
The Gatekeeper is common in most of lowland England and Wales, rare in Ireland and unknown in Scotland.


There is just one generation of Gatekeepers a year with adults emerging in July and peaking in early August. They spend much of their time basking with their wings open.

A variety of grasses are the foodplants for their caterpillars - bents, fescues, meadow and common couch grass.Brambles and ragwort are the adult butterfly's favourites along with thistles and fleabane.

Common Ragwort (with hover fly)

The ragwort photo was shot on a nature reserve at Stockton beside the River Tees. A second nature reserve is on the opposite river bank.

Maze Park with the A-19 flyover in the background
Maze Park, created from what was once an industrial eyesore is one home of the Grayling butterfly although I have yet to see one.

Grayling butterfly on knapweed
The Grayling (Hipparchia semele) is the largest of the brown butterflies with a wingspan of 2 inches or more. Notoriously camera shy its habitats are dry grasslands, sandy heath lands with colonies frequently near the sea.

Difficult to photograph because it always keeps its wings closed when settled. It often conceals its 'eye' behind the hindwing when at rest.

Grayling - DWT nature reserve
This video will enable you to see the upper wings of this butterfly, feeding on sea holly at Hightown, Merseyside in England.


Love is like a butterfly
As soft and gentle as a sigh
The multicolored moods of love are like its satin wings
Love makes your heart feel strange inside
It flutters like soft wings in flight
Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing

I feel it when you're with me
It happens when you kiss me

Photo attributions:
  • Gatekeeper butterfly (Pyronia tithonus): 25 July 2014, Clacton-on-Sea, Sansese at English Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Gatekeeper butterfly feeding on a thistle: 26 July 2005, geograph.org.uk, by Martin Addison - CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Youtube Video: Gatekeeper aka Hedge Brown - Butterflies in Cornwall, Paul Dinning
  • Maze Park; 12 July 2005, geograph.org.uk, by Mike Garret - CC BY-SA.2.0
  • Grayling butterfly feeding on knapweed: 17 July 2006, geograph.org.uk, by Anne Burgess - CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Grayling - DWT nature reserve: 21 August 2013, by Ian Kirk, Broadstone, Dorset - CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Youtube Video:Grayling Butterfly Hipparchia semele, by Steve Cross. 


10 comments:

Bill Nicholls said...

I can at least say I have seen them around. Good choice

Helen Hollick said...

Oh we have those (Gatekeepers) in our garden.... I wondered what they were! Thanks!

evasmoodboard said...

so lovely; I nominate you for the black and white five-day photo challenge! Enjoy if you do it! :)

Karen S. said...

Especially nice poem, and your photos and the video are lovely. We have no butterflies moving around here yet. We're back to far too cold temperatures!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - I've seen butterflies around - I'm not sure what sort .. but these two are great Gs .. and so informative to see the plantings, and the industrial meadow type land. I too love the poems/songs .. I must remember to read them properly ..

Beautiful hatching weather down here - it's glorious .. cheers Hilary

Jeffrey Scott said...

Great post. Love the poem.
One of my best poems was written about a butterfly.

Jo said...

Always seems sad that butterflies have such a short life. Some of these shorter than most. Nice to know that eye sores are being improved.

Bish Denham said...

Both such lovely creatures. But then, I'm not sure I've ever seen an "ugly" butterfly.

Kristin said...

I wonder what animal the predators see when they look at the eyes on a butterfly's wings. And I wonder what the difference is between a moth and a butterfly.

Maria said...

Hi Bob! Love that poem. Have a nice weekend ahead.