Photograph of Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), taken September 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.
Photograph of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) on Butterfly-bush (Buddleia davidii), taken on August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.
This afternoon, after work, I was greeted by not only one Painted Lady butterfly, nor just two as pictured, but three on the same Butterfly-bush, which is quite something to see.
I hadn’t seen this butterfly all year until to my delight I came home from work this afternoon and found it flying around my garden and feeding on my Buddleia. Quite a large and distinctively marked butterfly. It has a wingspan of up to 90mm.
The caterpillar feeds mainly on thistles, but also mallows.
It flies April to October in two or three broods. Found in almost any habitat, including parks and gardens. They breed throughout the year in North Africa and migrate in huge swarms northwards through southern Europe in the spring. It cannot survive the winter in any form in Britain or Europe for that matter, except possibly the far south in Spain. Far ranging migrant, and very common.
Photographs of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) on Butterfly-bush (Buddleia davidii), taken on August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.
I have always grown this nectar-rich feeding station for insects in my garden. There are many varieties of this plant which can be a tree or a shrub, but it is Buddleia davidii which has always been a favourite with gardeners.
Also commonly referred to as the Butterfly- bush, Summer Lilac or Orange Eye, it was originally from China. It was introduced to Britain in the 1800s where it naturalised very rapidly and became invasive. It will grow almost anywhere, including waste ground, railway embankments and roadsides, and I have even seen it growing out of chimney stacks and walls in old buildings where it could potentially cause structural damage.It actually does well on poor soil.
It is a very vigorous plant, and even though I virtually prune and cut mine right down in late winter, the following summer they can grow up to 5m tall with a profusion of lilac blooms on arching branches.The plant readily seeds, and seedlings can be seen popping up in quite a few places, but these can be kept in check with weeding. Deadheading can also reduce the spread of this plant.
Some love this bush, others hate it. But for me it is summertime, and it attracts and feeds a variety of butterflies, bees and other insects throughout the season.
Photograph of Butterfly-bush (Buddleia davidii) taken August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.
Although Buddleias can get a little out of hand in smaller gardens, I have always had one growing in a corner or two at the bottom of my small back garden. The flowers indeed attract numerous nectar loving insects, like this White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum), and butterflies, giving it one of its common names the ‘Butterfly-bush’.