Monday, 15 July 2013

Insects of a Croft Meadow

There's a meadow at the back of one of our neighbouring crofts, an oasis of grasses and wildflowers surrounded by an advancing desert of bracken.  The flowers play host to a mass of insects, best seen in the sort of weather we had this morning - a light wind and sunny intervals.

 This dark green fritillary, Argynnis aglaja, was feeding on a cushion of wild thyme....

....while this common blue, Polyommatus icarus, was first seen feeding on one of the three species of orchid which are abundant in the meadow.

He looks like a bee but, judging by those eyes and the way he folds his wings, he's almost certainly a fly, and he's feeding on bog aspodel.

But what we came to this meadow to find was the meadow's small population of six-spotted burnets, Zygaena filipendulae.  They're a day-flying moth, and they're very fussy about the sort of day it is.  We saw a burnet flying across the meadow almost as soon as we arrived, but we hadn't been there very long before the sun went behind some clouds and the burnets disappeared.  After a bit of hunting we found where they were hidden, clinging on to a leaf so determinedly that one could put the camera lens right up to them without their minding in the slightest.

The burnets are most often seen on the stem of what appears to be a grass, though it's not clear whether it's one of their food sources.  When they fly, they have a flight very similar to a bee, very fast and low, zig-zagging across the grassland with a fair amount of buzzing.

The meadow is a wonderful place to visit for a few minutes' peace and quiet; and being very still and very quiet often reveals creatures which aren't seen in the rush of everyday life.


  1. Love it !!

    Jerry Slater

  2. A place to treasure. I wonder how many like it have been lost to the bracken and how many remain