Remember my blog from July about the six caterpillars? This image shows the last emerged butterfly which I found when I was at home for some hours (returned from Germany and ready to depart to France). As summer will return the next days I hope to see, find and photograph some butterflies again as I did not touch my camera for some weeks.
Nature it's on her best at the moment! Next to birds, deers also butterflies giving 'birth' to the next generation. Wherever I look, I find caterpillars, their enemies and other little creatures!
Wanda (my shepard) hates them....actually not them but me walking slowly through the forest and searching for them. In almost every Alder Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) caterpillars are living:
Unfortunately all the caterpillars of Red Admiral which I found in my garden were parasited. When I unfold the nettle leaf I noticed an opening at one cocoon and a few minutes later I witnessed the emergence of a parasitoid wasp. The newborn wasp flew to a higher nettle leaf and allowed me one image before she flew away to search for new victims:
Three weeks ago I was walking with Wanda (my Sheperd) when I noticed an empty chrysalis of the Comma Butterfly on nettle, further inspection resulted in three more empty chrysalises! Apparently I had found 'the' favourite place of this species. The complete nettle plant had six or seven stems and suddenly I noticed some caterpillar feet between the flowers. The battle (see my blog from 20/08/2016) started again. Fortunately this caterpillar was not infected and exactly one week ago, just in time before I started a trip to my hometown, a new butterfly was born:
After 17 years and countless hours of waiting the battle is won! The complete sequence can be seen here (Butterflies -> Metamorphosis -> Comma Butterfly)
At the moment it's caterpillar time outside! In the last two weeks during my walks with Wanda I found at least thousand caterpillars in two area's. Leading is the Map Butterfly (after 25 caterpillar nests I stopped counting them) followed by the Red Admiral (on almost every nettle plant I found a caterpillar). In my own garden I found at least 25 caterpillars of the Red Admiral and two caterpillar nests of the Map Butterfly. More by surprise I found one caterpillar of the Comma Butterfly and again I had the hope to finish my 'battle' which started in 1999 (see/read my chapter metamorphosises). Last year I had two caterpillars of this species but one was parasitized and the other emerged during the night. In 2014 I missed the emergence process as the butterfly was 'born' during the night.
So I was very happy with this new chance and very soon after I found the caterpillar he started to search for a good place to transform into a chrysalis.
Unfortunately my Comma Battle will continue as this beautiful caterpillar was parasitized and an ugly larva hatched from my one and only comma chrysalis!
I do not want to repeat myself but again some caterpillars and a chrysalis fooled me.
One of the caterpillars of the Small Tortoiseshell was extremely moving that I thought the transformation process would take place within one or two hours like the Peacock caterpillars did. The reality was far from this and again I lost almost a day on waiting. The next morning it became even worse as I was confronted with a pair of eyes of the Comma Butterfly.
I'm no wasting no more time
Don't think I could believe you
Oh when there's just be silence
And When life will be over
Don't think you will forgive you
© Warner Chappell Music France SA
While I was writing the former blog I looked at the chrysalis of the Comma Butterfly and saw a butterfly sitting above the empty chrysalis. I inspected the chrysalis the evening before extensively with a torch to find colour details but as I did not find any emerging sign I assumed the chrysalis was dead. The chrysalis/butterfly fooled me!
These days I could write daily a blog as so much interesting things are happening. Next to the Comma Butterfly I also had a chrysalis of the Red Admiral. Also this chrysalis did not have any colour changing signs and when I returned from my 'finding new caterpillars' tour I noticed that something else was sitting near the chryslis. It was a parasitoid wasp and looking at the hole in the chrysalis it was obvious where it came from.
Although I have no butterfly and missed the chance to photograph a sequence of an emergence, I was very happy to catch the parasitoid wasp on the photo. Normally they are gone very quickly and I only find an empty chrysalis.
Since years I had the plan to create one day my own drive-in restaurant for butterflies with over-ripe fruit. As this is a very good fruit year and because there are more ripe prunes than there is capacity to make marmelade, eat them or bake prune pies, I feed the butterflies.
I took an old dish and filled it with very ripe or foulded and/or fermenting prunes and created my own drive-in restaurant for the Red Admiral. Sometimes a Comma Butterfly and/or Speckled Wood also visits my restaurant.
It's funny how many other insects like different kind of flies, bees and wasps come too and how quick the prunes are eaten. On sunny days I counted at least 20 Red Admirals!
Each day I had to fill the dish again with 'fresh' foulded prunes....their happy meal!
Again I visited this beautiful area and again I stayed at the St. Georg accommodation which is situated on the hill with a great view and in the middle of hiking paths and beech forest. Again one week was too short!
The weather was varying from cold, wet and stormy weather to summer weather with at least 20 degrees. At arrival a lot of beeches already were coloured yellow and orange and with rain I drove to a small kind of valley where I found a lot of old beeches and where I could look through the forest. With some little creeks this was a beautiful place to photograph; unfortunately the soft rain moved over into a kind of tropical rain shower. I returned a few days later to this place when temperatures were much higher and the sun was shining; although it was very beautiful it was hard to photograph with my wide angle lens as the slightest sun spot causes a kind of over exposure.
Beforehand I had in mind to photograph a lot of different, beautiful and eatable mushrooms; I wanted the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) and/or Penny Bun (Boletus edulis) with in the background the huge forest. Unfortunately I did not find both. From a local I learned that most eatable mushrooms are gathered already. After a long walk (more a run) in the early evening I found some Fly Agarics but unfortunately they were growing between some high brown grass.
Fortunately I found an other kind of Fly Agaric.....the bad smell brought me to him!
One morning, when I stepped out in the first light to photograph the sunrise in the hills, it felt like somebody had put on the heath outside.....summer arrived again and in the noon I saw some butterflies nipping on rotten apples.
Again I took my camera but instead of tripod I choose my beanbag and angle finder as I wanted an other perspective. Due to the warm weather a lot of Common Frogs (Rana temporaria) were jumping near the creeks and in a beech forest nearby a lot of beautiful caterpillars of the Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda) came out of the trees.
How time flies! As I mentioned before, one week was too short as every day felt like an other and new adventure. Next to the nature encounters I was impressed by the kindness of the local people.
More autumn photos of this lovely forest region and its inhabitants can be found in the chapter Teutoburger Wald, I added an autumn gallery.
While I had a nice intermezzo with a big green Cricket (I tried to photograph this Cricket but he only showed me his back instead of head) I noticed something orange in the distance on a tree trunk. I was happy that this must be a butterfly but which one....not that there is much choice here in the South of the Netherlands. For a few seconds I hoped for the Queen of Spain Fritillary but ‘unfortunately’ it was the Comma Butterfly which is a common butterfly.
The Comma Butterfly, together with the Peacock Butterfly, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and nowadays the Red Admiral, belongs to the hibernating butterflies. During the coldest months they are hibernating as adult butterfly in sheds, garages, farmyard buildings, hollow trees, caves etc. in which they are protected from the worst of the Dutch weather.
I hope that this Comma Butterfly was not the last butterfly which I catched in 2012 with my camera!
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.