Notes From Tiggywinkles: All in a flutter over butterflies

Purple Emperor butterfly
Purple Emperor butterfly

This summer may have been very special but the real magic is surely the myriads of butterflies fluttering all around us.

Insecticides had decimated them over the past few years but some have been ‘clinging to the wreckage’ and have made a comeback.

Even the once common small tortoiseshell is struggling back from the brink.

We must all be relieved that the gruesome hobby of killing butterflies to pin in collections is now taboo.

I’ve met this macabre when Tiggywinkles was bequeathed a collection of mummified imagoes, as adult butterflies are called. It even contained bodies of teetering rarities like large blue and large tortoiseshell.

I could not live with it and handed the collection over to Aylesbury Museum where at least it had a respectful purpose in education.

On a brighter note, Britain’s largest, most majestic butterfly, the purple emperor, can still be seen in the wild.

That is if you know where to look and have the requisite to lure them down, fox poo. Yes fox poo.

An eminent butterfly fan looks to Tiggywinkles for his supplies of fox poo in order to meet these majestic speedy butterflies in their secret locations.

Butterflies are too fragile to ever get to Tiggywinkles but we do see their more robust cousins, the moths and caterpillars of the hawk moths complete with their bizarre spiky tails. We have just handled three caterpillars of elephant hawk moth that simply needed rehoming on their favourite hedgerow food plant, rose bay willow herb.

Back to butterflies – some might say that white butterflies damage their cabbages.

But as a late friend of ours, Mr Gordon Beningfield, a great champion of butterflies used to say, “Why not just plant extra cabbages.”

Makes sense.