A Butterfly Diary: April

Love is like a butterfly:  It goes wherever it pleases and pleases wherever it goes. 

(Click here for the song: “Love is like a butterfly”)

OrangeTip2

At the beginning of the month I saw many of the same butterflies as posted about in late March: Common Brimstones, Peacocks and Commas. A few additions appeared in April, but it is still rather early for most.

The first Orange Tips (Anthocharis cardamines, Aurorafalter) arrived on March 31st, and have been fluttering around since then. I am always happy to see these, as they provide an excellent excuse for not doing much weeding; they are attracted into my garden – to lay their eggs – by Honesty, Nettles and Garlic Mustard.  They do in fact contain mustard oil, making them taste horrible to birds… the orange wingtip is the warning: don’t eat me! They like Cuckoo flowers too (Cardamine pratensis).

OrangeTip3

I was amazed how much they seem to love the Aubretia, which has also been very popular with the bees. To me these butterflies symbolize Spring, as they are only seen flying in the months of April and May.

~~~

The next one I saw was the Green-Veined White (Pieris napi, Grünader-Weißling). It is very similar to the Cabbage White – probably the most common butterfly of all in Europe.

GreenVeinedWhite2

When I recently read that they like Bugle, Buttercups and Vetches, I was very pleased to note another few areas of the garden I MUST NOT WEED! (Yes, we have them all within the garden…) These butterflies can be found in abundance on the edge of woodland and valleys with grassy meadows.

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Finally, I spotted an absolutely tiny butterfly, which turned out to actually be a moth… the Mint Moth (Pyrausta purpuralis, Purpurrote Zünsler ). It has a wingspan of only about 2 cm, and although a moth it often flies in the daytime too.

MintMoth

The caterpillars like mint, oregano and thyme, which grow wild in this area as well as in my garden. The moths are apparently common in dry and chalky grassland areas such as we have, although I have never noticed one before. Here the moth has landed on a Loosestrife leaf for a rest in the sun! It was very friendly and waited for me to fetch my camera – I only got one shot at it though and then it was off again.

~~~

Thou winged blossom, liberated thing,
What secret tie binds thee to other flowers,
Still held within the garden’s fostering?

(from Ode to a Butterfly, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson)

I hope you are seeing lots of butterflies too – or at least soon will be! Even if you don’t get photos – incredibly difficult – please share what’s visiting your garden!

😀

Links:

48 thoughts on “A Butterfly Diary: April

  1. Photographing butterflies requires a large dose of patience! You have done a fantastic job of capturing their spring adventures in your garden!

  2. The closest equivalent of the Mint Moth I’ve seen here in southern California is the skipper butterfly – it’s fairly common this time of year but not as pretty as your Mint Moth. I’ve seen quite a few Gulf Frittilaries as well, even though I don’t have any Passionflower vines, their host plant, in my current garden. I’ve been particularly pleased to see a lot of sulphur butterflies this year – attributable to my introduction of Senna bicapsularis, a host plant, in my garden a few years ago.

    • Thank you so much for sharing Kris! I have looked up your butterflies and the Gulf Fritilaries are very pretty. We also have various fritillary butterflies, but they are generally smaller. The sulphur ones can be seen in Europe too – but there are so many different types! That Senna shrub looks beautiful too. Thanks for visiting! 😀

  3. Sounds like we’re seeing much the same species as you. No green-veined whites just yet, and I’ve never seen a mint moth… wonder if they stray this far north? Thanks for the link!

    • If you ever see a mint moth do let me know! I have read that they are fairly common in the south of England, but then they are supposedly very common here, and I’d never noticed one before. But then, I often see tiny butterflies on the wing and it is impossible to identify them!

  4. I have seen plenty of Peacocks this year and I can’t remember ever having so many Orange Tips around. I just can’t get them to sit still long enough to get a photo. Well done for yours, they are beautiful. What a dear little moth, I have never seen him before.

    • Thanks Chloris. We have also had more orange tips than usual, but hardly any peacocks…they should appear later in the year again though.

  5. Love that Orange Tip Cathy. I’ve seen 2 or 3 butterflies this spring but am not good at identifying them. I seem to see them more often in late summer and autumn.

  6. With all this crazy weather we have been having I seem to only have aphids, crickets and snails right now 😥 I sure enjoy all the photos of all the beautiful butterflies in your garden though! 🙂

  7. We could use some orange tips around here if it’s garlic mustard they eat! But we don’t have any, just the cabbage whites which seem to be doing well, even this early (for us) in the spring.

    • I think cabbage whites are some of those creatures that would emerge from a war-zone unscratched! LOL! I have been picking caterpillars off various plants, and the birds have been very active in the flower beds, so at least someone’s happy!

  8. I love your little butterflies! So colorful, and early, by my garden! I haven’t seen any yet. I know we will, but I was thinking that this year I’d like to really be intentional with planting a butterfly garden. You’ve inspired me! 🙂

    • I’m glad you have been inspired Debra! The butterflies would be so grateful, I’m sure. So I hope you can attract some pretty ones – it lifts my spirits when I see them!

    • They are all so quick, and it really has been a matter of luck getting these pictures! Now, if I had a few hours where I could just sit out there doing nothing with camera in hand… 😉

  9. Lovely post, I love the Dolly Parton clip too. So far, we have Orange tips, male and female, Brimstones and a lot of Peacocks this year. The Cabbage whites, I am prepared for with some enviromesh, but none so far. Are you going to do this every month, I will make a better record.

    • Hi Julie. Yes, I shall do a round-up at the end of each month this year. It would be lovely to hear which butterflies you see too! we haven’t had as many peacocks as usual, but more orange tips and brimstones. Hope May brings some more to our gardens! 😀

  10. I remember the first bee of the season a few weeks back–can’t say I’ve ever been happier to see a bee (after our tough winter!) Also (alas) cabbage moths. And I haven’t even planted the collard greens yet!

    • The cabbage whites are very tough little things! Hopefully you’ll see a few more colourful (and less damaging) ones soon! 😀

    • It’ll be wonderful when you finally get some warmer weather – there are sure to be plenty in your wildflower meadow then Donna.

  11. Some special butterflies I´ve seen in April are: Malvendickkopf (Carcharodes alcea), the brown-orange spring generation of Landkärtchen (Araschnia levana), kleines Wiesenvögelein Coenonympha pamphilus) and an adorable swallow-tail.
    Your butterfly photos are very beautiful, Cathy!

  12. It is such a good time visiting you Cathy. You always have beautiful and interesting posts. I love the butterflies. So far only Cabbage Whites here but they make me happy just the same. 🙂

  13. So far I have to say “snap” apart from I see the Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) which is the most plentiful at the moment. I think I have seen the little moth before and not known what it was but I haven’t seen it this year yet. If it is the same one it was very difficult to photograph as it has a sort of sheen on it that reflects the light. Amelia

    • We see them here too, but I haven’t spotted one yet. I have seen a couple more I couldn’t identify as they are just too fast!

  14. Not that many around at the moment but then -due to “Eisheilige”- it may be a little fresh for them. Love your pics and am glad that we have so many wildflowers (some call them weeds!) to please our winged friends. 🙂

    • We have had only a few visitors the last few days too, but there are plenty of blooms so I’m sure there will be more butterflies again soon!

  15. Pingback: A Butterfly Diary (July) | Words and Herbs

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