The Beautiful Adonis Blue Butterfly

Posted on 03/06/2020 By

The Adonis Blue

The Adonis Blue Butterfly.

Bertie: “Cor. I dunno. First of all, Bobby says he wants to tell the story of a beautiful butterfly. Then he asks bleedin Trevor to write it! I mean!”

Trevor: “Look, Bertie. Let’s be perfectly honest. You do write most of the stories.”

Bertie: “It’s my bleedin blog!”

Trevor: “I know, Bertie. But here at Mindfully Bertie we are a team. We have specialists. Bobby knows I have an inquiring mind and like to delve into scientific things. Eamonn has a unique Irish outlook on everything. Betty Boop has been sadly neglected. And Bobby and Tim add their bits and pieces now again.”

Bertie: “All sounds a bit clever dick to me. Give me an example.”

Trevor: “Symbiosis.”

Bertie: “What the ‘ell’s that?”

Trevor: “Read the story of the Adonis Blue and you will find out!”

The Adonis Blue.

We have featured Denbies Hillside in Mindfully Bertie many times. We have even shown you the wood sculpture that volunteer carpenter/sculptor Ian carved a few years ago. A sculpture describing the fascinating life story of the Adonis Blue in carved picture relief. But first and most important time-wise. The Adonis is currently flying in reasonable numbers on the hillside. Like many butterflies it’s lifespan is short and now is the time to have a look.

Trevor: “I do feel that this is an opportune moment for some definitions!”

SYMBIOSIS

Is the interaction between two organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.

ADONIS

An Adonis is a very handsome man, especially a young one. Its origin is the god Adonis, in Greek mythology the eternally youthful god of beauty and desire. And now it is time to use the sculpture for what it was intended. Education.

Trevor sat on a wood carved statue with Adonis Blue butterflies feature.

Trevor… early one morning with the butterflies.

So here is the life story of the Adonis Blue butterfly carved in relief.

The Adonis Blue lays its eggs under the leaves of the Horseshoe Vetch plant in May – June and August – September. The caterpillars can be seen during April and late July as they search for ants to “milk” their sugary secretions.

Look carefully and you will see the eggs laid by the female butterfly under the leaves of the Horseshoe Vetch plant. You can also see the caterpillar and the ants.

Look carefully and you will see the eggs laid by the female butterfly under the leaves of the Horseshoe Vetch plant. You can also see the caterpillar and the ants.

Soon after, the caterpillar turns into a chrysalis, when it is buried by the ants. For the next three weeks the ants are busy constantly attending to it and protecting it from predators.

And here are the ants with the chrysalis.

And here are the ants with the chrysalis.

And then one glorious day the chrysalis changes into the most glorious of butterflies. As befits an “Adonis”, only the male is blue. The female is brown. During its short life, the male cavorts around the hillside seeking females to mate with and continue the story for another year.

A glorious butterfly. Minus antennae. They soon "disappeared".

A glorious butterfly. Minus antennae. They soon “disappeared”.

Here is the story of the sculpture:

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/denbies-hillside/features/giant-butterflies-emerge-ondenbies-hillside

Or for a more general view of Denbies Hillside, try this:

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/denbies-hillside

Like many species of butterfly, the Adonis Blue has undergone a major decline but, with our help – The National Trust, its volunteers and you – it is thriving on Denbies Hillside. It requires a very special habitat and that one food plant for its caterpillars. The Horseshoe Vetch. And that needs a south facing chalk downland, poor in resources but consequently rich in plant species that thrive in poor conditions.

There are many other butterflies on Denbies Hillside, with two significant “explosions” still to come. The Chalk Hill Blue and the Marbled White. When they appear, we will share them with you too.

But for now we treasure the Adonis Blue

Actress Virginia McKenna unveiled the sculpture in 2015.

Actress Virginia McKenna unveiled the sculpture in 2015.

We were all there, together with the hierarchy of the NT. When they were dispersing, a few of us suggested to Virginia that we walk a little way down the path to see if we could see an Adonis Blue. The weather was damp and overcast. It didn’t seem likely. But there, just off the path, was an Adonis. This one. The same as the first picture. It made her day. And ours.

Adonis Blue.

Adonis Blue.

To write this story, we have walked up to the hillside most days in the last week. Hot and sunny, the butterflies were particularly skittish and difficult to photograph. We managed a couple, but share with you the beauty of the hillside besides the butterflies.

Adonis Blue and Horseshoe Vetch.

Adonis Blue and Horseshoe Vetch.

Adonis Blue and Horseshoe Vetch.

And again, showing the underwing pattern.

Male and Female Adonis Blue.

We found this picture of the male and female together on Swifts Hill in the Cotswolds. Where Diddley’s ashes lie.

Horseshoe Vetch.

Horseshoe Vetch.

There's the hillside on a glorious day. Our only grass mower in attendance.

There’s the hillside on a glorious day. Our only grass mower in attendance.

Belted Galloway. Mowing machine.

Belted Galloway. Mowing machine.

Wild Rose

Wild Rose

Wild Rose.

Wild Roses on the way up.

Early Common Spotted Orchid.

Early Common Spotted Orchid.

Denbies Hillside on 31 May 2020.

Denbies Hillside on 31 May 2020.

Heading home.

Heading home.

See how close to the surface the chalk is, but still supporting Horseshoe Vetch on top.

See how close to the surface the chalk is, but still supporting Horseshoe Vetch on top.

Lighting a Candle for Diddley

We forgot the candle this morning, Diddley, but will never forget you. So please concentrate.

This apple is not an apple. It’s a candle. We will make up tonight and light a few.

An Apple on Diddley's Bench.

——————-

Wildlife    


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