Once a decade, the Thistle Butterfly
The UK is full of butterflies at the moment. It’s a once in a decade phenomenon. Have you seen one?
They are Painted Ladies. Their scientific name is Vanessa cardui, which means Thistle Butterfly, or, in its correct order, Butterfly Thistle.
They’ve made it here from north Africa with a lot of effort and a following wind. This one is refuelling on a thistle on the Mainland of Orkney:
Their eyes, antennae and tongue are fascinatingly alien:
Some will have arrived early and have laid their eggs on thistles and nettles and the caterpillars may already have pupated and emerged. None of them will survive our winter.
This one is pristine. Maybe it’s from the new generation?
This one is not.
I suspect it is showing signs of that journey. It looks tired and washed out after its epic adventure to Orkney. So do I.
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