Butterflies are a gauge to the health of nature in general. There are far less of them around than there used to be - before pesticides and the bulldozing of ancient hedgerows, the streamlining of agriculture and huge increases in the belching out of car exhaust fumes. However, butterflies brighten our lives. When a butterfly lands on your shirt you don't flick it away with disgust or stomp on it when it lands on your lawn. People like butterflies. We like their markings and the way they fly and we are all vaguely aware of the shortness of their butterfly lives.
In the last twenty years, several British butterflies have been deemed to be extinct but the good news is that there are still around sixty different species out there. They are a national treasure. Following the Tigers' 2-0 victory over Watford - which I watched in the local, I saw a butterfly in our garden on Sunday - as I was communing with nature in my shorts and flip flops - cutting the lawn and pruning straggly plants. What was it? I wondered. Well, having researched every British butterfly currently known to man, I am pretty sure it was a Speckled Wood Butterfly.
Both male and female Speckled Woods feed on honeydew in tree tops, only occasionally being seen feeding on flowers. Adult wingspan: 46-56mm. Habitat - The Speckled Wood breeds in woodland habitats, lanes and tracks between tall hedgerows, parks, gardens, and scrub. It seems to prefer slightly damp areas where there is tall grass and some dappled shade. I will be watching out for other butterflies this summer. Have you seen any recently?
Above: The Speckled Wood Butterfly