Saturday, 23 April 2016

Autumn Butterflies

A Common Brown  Heteronympha mesope sits hidden in the leaf-litter

Summer is now long-passed in Canberra and the butterflies are dwindling in number. It seems not long ago that I was walking through clouds of butterflies whenever I walked through the bush. Now there are only a few flitting up from the ground as they see me approach. They are weak and cold, slow to move, yet still difficult to see and creep up on. To catch a few on camera, I had to wait til I flushed them, then watch and carefully mark the exact place where they landed. As soon as they landed and closed their wings they would just disappear from view. So good is their camouflage.

They look so much like fallen leaves

The two species I have seen in the past week have been the Common Brown and the Meadow Argus. Both have dull grey brown underwing colouring, which is all that can be seen when they lie with their wings closed. The bright orange topsides of their wings only show when they see a glimpse of sunshine and open them to warm up in the gentle heat.

A female Common Brown opens her wings to catch some soft sunshine

Even then, the soft tones of the oranges, yellows and blues merge well with the dead leaves, twigs and grass stems. Beautiful seasonal autumn tones. Something to linger on, as my next post, next week, will be on a fresh spring topic. I'll be migrating north any day now.

A Meadow Argus Junoia villida basks on a warm substrate of gravel amongst the leaf litter

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