Thursday, 1 August 2019

New Butterfly Species for the Orchard

On 30 July I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and spotted a butterfly in the potager. It was a new species for the orchard, and for me -- a Brown Hairstreak Thecla betulae (Fr. la Thécla du bouleau). And it was a lovely freshly minted one. What a treat!

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Although widespread, this species is uncommon. Despite their scientific and French names, which indicate they are associated with birch trees, in fact, in France at any rate, the caterpillars eat Blackthorn Prunus spinosus (Fr. Prunellier), or sometimes ornamental plums. According to the field guide you can encounter them along forest edges, hedges, open woods, undergrowth and gardens all over France. Apparently the adult butterflies are attracted to Canada Goldenrod Solidago canadensis (Fr. Verges-d'or) but I don't have any and this one was supping on Wild Carrot Daucus carottus (Fr. carotte sauvage) -- like every other insect in the orchard at the moment.

We get a number of other hairstreaks locally. This species can be distinguished from them because they are very orange, and because the path of the 'streak' (the irregular black and white line on their undersides) is unique to each species.


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Rhodesia said...

Fabulous photo and a butterfly I have yet to see. Have a good weekend, Diane

Susan said...

I'd never seen it before either.

Katie Zeller said...

Very pretty - and I have not seen one either. I'm still seeing lots around my flowering herbs. I'll watch for this one.

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