Big thank you from

Chance to enjoy the `thrill of seeing a most beautiful butterfly'

by Paul Cormacain

 I HAVE reported other people seeing butterflies this year, now it is my turn. But before the peacock butterflies, there was the woolly bear two weeks ago. Then there was a brown moth, and rather than writing down a detailed description of this insect, I dashed for the lepidoptera books.

Of course when I returned a few minutes later; the moth had flown.

Either I saw three peacock butterflies, or I saw one peacock three times. It was in the last week in March, the sun was shining, and the peacock is one of our more beautiful butterflies.

A well-known authority has described his experience of peacock sighting as 'the thrill of seeing these most beautiful butterflies'. And if we are lucky, we- can have this selfsame thrill, for free.

The peacock is attracted to many species of flowering plants, but especially the buddleia.

I have checked our buddleia, but not a sign of a flower yet, so we must assume that he just dropped in for a visit.

It hibernates as an adult in, perhaps, a hollow tree trunk, or in a wood pile or somewhere similar. It spends the winter there.

The creature may well emerge on the first warm, sunny day of spring, and chances are that this insect missed the other warm, sunny days.

The book says it can appear as early as March, and so it did. 'It lives as an adult all year round, excepting June and July.

Eggs are laid in April, the caterpillars are out and about in May and June.

In later June and July the pupae are hanging around for about a fortnight, and then emerge in all their colourful glory. Keep an eye open for the peacock, they are out there, and you should have 'the thrill of seeing this most beautiful butterfly'.

Then there was the green-veined white, also seen in the same week, although all the Coming Events books say he, for it was a male, should not have been out and about for another week or two. Blame it on our (sometimes) glorious weather.

The green-veined. is also a lovely butterfly and is perhaps our most common one. Because of its normal breeding habits the adult is normally seen in May and August, this demonstrating that it has two broods annually.

The eggs are usually found in May and August, the larvae in May/lung and August. Pupae is the over-wintering stage, but the pupa is found over a large time of the year. It is about from January to April, during July, and then in September to December.

So you may also be lucky enough to see a green-veined white butterfly.

Mind you, with the weather in the run-up to Easter so mild, a frosty morning but not much hint of cold, and sunshine, you may see many more butterflies. So keep an eye open for them, for they will only give you pleasure. As an added interest, you could report them to the butterfly people.

Well, with some butterflies being up and about there was a positive -.and here I an lost for words - I was going to say a scourge of bees, but that is not fair to the bees. I could say a swarm of bees, but that would be inaccurate.

So perhaps I should just say that there are many, many bees about, queen bees of different types, all woken up after winter hibernation. They are all looking to set up hives.

Coming Events

Until Sunday 7 April - A trail through the woods at Castle Espie in search 0f suitable places for nests, details 91874146

Sunday 21 April - What about a bluebell walk in Colin Glen Forest Park? Starts at 2pm, more from 9061 4115

22 April - Lisburn RSPB will hear of Butterflies of Ireland from Brian Nelson, details 9260 1864

Thursday 25 April - Castle Espie birdwatch morning, 10.30, why not phone 91874146?

27 April - Lisburn RSPB is going on a field trip to Killard, details 9262 1866

17 to 19 May - Plenty of advance notice, at Rathlin Island, sounds like a fascinating weekend, why not have a word with RSPB about it. Contact number is 2076 3948

Ulster Star