On the Butterfly Tour last week we encountered a tree full of Purple Hairsteaks. Now anyone familiar with these butterflies will know that watching them usually requires a considerable amount of ‘neck craning’. More frequently that not they are in the very tops of trees. Not so this tree-full. They were more than obliging; coming down to bask in the sheltered sunshine on an Ash tree.

Now, I’m reliably told Purple Hairstreaks don’t as a matter of course visit Ash. They are more associated with Oak and indeed there were Oaks nearby. However apparently they will visit Ash to take the sugary honeydew secreted by Aphids. Aphids being particularly fond of Ash. Well I searched that tree carefully and I couldn’t find a single aphid. Although I did see the hairstreaks sipping the sap from the tree at leaf buds.

We encountered 23 species of butterfly during the day; perhaps a little below what we could have expected had the cloud not set in during the afternoon. Next years day is up for grabs if you wish to come along make a booking https://www.wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk/tours/special-day-tours/

4 Responses to “Foodsource”

  1. 3 Wendy Jones
    Aug 11, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Beautiful photo, as always Carl. Could the fungus that affects ash to cause ash tree die-back also secrete something which the hairstreaks find even tastier than the local oak trees? Just a thought. Wendy

    Sent from my iPad


    • Aug 11, 2017 at 7:07 pm

      Thank you for the complement Wendy. It could be possible the butterflies were feeding on a fungus secretion. However, there was no sign of the Ash die back on the trees we were looking at, they were large trees and quite healthy. I suspect they were just feeding directly on the sap from the tree.

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Aug 2017


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