31st July 2014

This favourite, large Butterfly, the Brimstone, is one of the few species to hibernate as adults and they are therefore one of the first to be seen flying in spring. Overwintering butterflies can survive the cold spells by the presence of ice-nucleating proteins which control freezing in their bodies! Brimstones are also thought, because of their yellow colour, to have given rise to the generic name ‘Butterfly’. The leaf-shaped profile of the wings means they are perfectly camouflaged when resting or hibernating, as can be seen from this photo of a female. We saw it in March, newly out of hibernation. The range for Brimstones has been extending further northwards over the last few years- we see them in our garden. It is dependent on the presence of the foodstuff of the caterpillars- Alder and Sea Buckthorn (earlier in the year I suggested anyone with a little space planted an Alder Buckthorn, which is also great for bees). The species is sexually dimorphic- the female is much paler cream, only the male is bright yellow

A female Brimstone Butterfly in March, resting among the plants, showing its brilliant camouflage.

A female Brimstone Butterfly in March, resting among the plants, showing its brilliant camouflage.

The beautiful male Brimstone butterfly, newly emerged from its chrysalis and feeding on nectar from Teasels.

The beautiful male Brimstone butterfly, newly emerged from its chrysalis and feeding on nectar from Teasels.

. I’ve been trying to get a photo of the male all year and Lynn spotted this one a few days ago, so I’ve been able to at last! This will be newly emerged from its chrysalis, which occurs  in July. Like this one, adults feed on nectar from Teasels, Buddleia and Knapweed. Conditions: A warm day, with a possible shower later- surprisingly this July, though it has had a lot of hot, dry weather, has still not been as hot as 2013. Temperature: Max 0- Min 15 C

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