Author Topic: The intoxication of the speckled wood butterfly  (Read 1432 times)

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Offline mayya

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The intoxication of the speckled wood butterfly
« on: August 20, 2014, 10:37:06 AM »
    The intoxication of the speckled wood butterfly


    Wenlock Edge: Drunk and disorderly, he wavers through the air until he catches the whiff of ripeness, finds the fruit and locks on
    • Paul Evans
    • The Guardian, Wednesday 20 August 2014
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    Speckled wood butterfly on over-ripe blackberry. Photograph: Maria [email protected]


    The speckled wood butterfly is clamped to a squidgy blackberry and drinks deeply. Drunk and disorderly, he wavers through the air until he catches the whiff of ripeness, finds the fruit, locks on and barely moves. His hindwing has a chunk missing; his forewing eye-spot is brighter than his real eye, which is jaundiced with a pinhole, pupil-like dot; the rest of him looks like something stuck to a pub carpet. He closes the cream and chocolate wings, which flicker through the dapples of the wood edge, making him a cluster of glimmering dots in flight. Looking closer at the folded undersides of his wings, they are an intricate camouflage of wood flake, leaf crisp and rot – invisible.

    Since the swifts switched high summer off behind them, the leaves have coarsened and something metallic hardens the lush greens. Skies lumbering with dark clouds, flashing with brilliance and cooling, tell their own story. Berries colour up, late blooms of honeysuckle sweeten the shadows, where there is a folded note. It reads: “bacon 1lb, eggs, 2 loafs, sticks D, suet logs, nuts, non alcohol, papers”. There is something about this simple and rather abstemious shopping list for people and birds which feels touching, lost on the side of the path.

    It is not a dietary style shared by the speckled wood butterfly. He is still sucking on the blackberry, dreamily intoxicated. These butterflies are not flowery types. Their caterpillars feed on grasses and they search for juicy opportunities along the hedge.
    The spotted flycatchers which hunt from fenceposts parallel to the hedge have gone; perhaps it was one of them which punched a ticket-hole out of the butterfly’s wing. Down struggles from heads like 50-legged glass spiders to escape on the breeze.
    This August is thirsty work and I feel more inclined to go with the speckled wood than the found shopping list.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/20/wenlock-edge-intoxication-speckled-wood-butterfly