Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 12, 2012

Wings of Summer

So there might be the slightest twang of the one season beginning its slow transformation into the next, but only a couple of days ago I came across two pairs of wings that still very much carried the flight of summer.

The peak time for butterflies is now many weeks past.  Those July days when the hedgerows were alive with the brown wings of Ringlet and Meadow Brown, when the sunny woodland ride tantalised with the possibility of a fritillary and the dappled light beyond harboured the chance of a White Admiral.  The days of 15 or 20 species seen during a single outing are awaiting us in a summer yet to be imagined, but the September days still have their butterflies, like the Red Admiral, Comma and Peacock, or perhaps even the odd Painted Lady.

It is however, none of these more showy insects that is being refered to above, but in fact nothing more than the humble (if not scorned!) ‘Cabbage White’ – a Green-veined White, to be specific, and one of the three common species of ‘white’ to be afforded that well-known vernacular.  Unlike the Small and particularly the Large, the Green-veined White is quite unlikely to be a pest of cabbage crops, much preferring to use wild members of the Brassica family as foodplants instead, such as Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and bitter-cress (Cardamine sp.).

The butterfly I saw the other day was as fresh as the spring.  I had my camera and endeavoured to fill the frame with it.  On scrutiny not a visible anomaly could be found among the dusting of grey-green scales along the wing veins, the black smudge of the same that formed the spot on the forewing, nor within the soft, creamy yellow and white colouration of the remainder.  It was, I decided, one of the most exquisite butterflies I had seen this summer.

Green-veined White (Pieris napi). Copyright 2012 Ross Gardner.

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