Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Gossamer Wings

The Black-veined White butterfly Aporia crataegi is known as le Gazé in French ('the Gossamer'). That's a much more evocative name than the matter of fact English name.

Last year they had one of their periodic boom years, and you saw them often in gardens, flowery meadows and open woodland. Sadly, they are extinct in Britain, and even in France, where they are still very commonly seen, they are in strong regression due to modern intensive farming methods, particularly the removal of hedgerows and the use of chemicals. Between 1960 and 1990 the equivalent of 440 000 hectares of hedgerow were destroyed in France, and in addition, the caterpillars are very sensitive to phytosanitary treatments used to ensure crops are pest and disease free.

A male Black-veined White visiting a garden near Preuilly.
The males are pure white with jet black veins. Females are more ivory coloured and often quite transparent. Where you see one, you are likely to see several, as they are quite gregarious. Flowering blackberry patches are always a good place to encounter them, and they will be so busy sipping nectar that they are easy to photograph. I was very pleased on my May 2011 butterfly survey to count 17 of them and see them in 6 of my 10 transects. I haven't seen any this year, but they should be on the wing any day now.

Susan

2 comments:

Pollygarter said...

So delicate - like a Tiffany lampshade

Sheila said...

My thought exactly. Do take a
photo of a female for us if
you have the chance.