Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Heath Fritillaries and Fragrant Orchids

Last year in early June I was able to photograph a Heath Fritillary Melitaea athalia (la Mélitée du mélampyre) butterfly sitting on a fragrant orchid.

Heath Fritillaries were one of the species having a bumper year, along with White Admirals, Black-veined Whites and Orange Tips last year. Although one of Britain's rarest butterflies (almost extinct there 40 years ago), and in strong decline in northern France, they are generally abundant in this area.

The fragrant orchid it is sitting on isn't the most common species (and none of them are particularly common). There is every chance this group are hybrids, as three species of Gymnadenia grow on the site.

A wider shot showing the patch of orchids.
You can see the butterfly on the left.
It was a cool day and the butterfly was just sitting. I suspect it was enjoying the strong and enticing scent of the orchids. Best of all, when I took clients to the site the next day, they also got good photos of the same behaviour.


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