Saturday, 28 May 2016

Speckled Wood

British resident butterfly species pass the winter months in any one of their life cycle stages but the Speckled Wood stands alone in being able to see out the winter as either a larva or pupa. This effectively allows it to have overlapping broods throughout the breeding season and it is continually on the wing from March to November (although it has been recorded in every month of the year during mild winters).

The Speckled Wood that occurs on much of the European mainland is of the nominate form Pararge aegeria aegeria but in the UK it is replaced by subspecies Pararge aegeria tircis. They are quite different from each other in appearance with tircis having a slightly darker ground colour to the wings and with yellower markings replacing the more orange markings of aegeria.
One of our favourite walks is along the cliff tops where the South Downs meet the sea and during the week Carol and I came across this very fresh looking specimen.
Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria tircis) (male)

By way of comparison, this is a photograph of a Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria aegeria) (male) taken in SW France in 2009. Even allowing for different lighting conditions when each photograph was taken and that the specimen below is from a late summer brood, the difference is clear to see.

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