Monday, 9 January 2017

Hot and Thirsty Butterflies

A flock of butterflies reflected in the water next to where they were sipping from the wet mud on the pool margin. They never drank directly from the open water.

It has been hot and sunny in the Canberra area since Christmas and all sorts of wildlife have been going to drink at whatever water-sources they can find. There were thousands of butterflies at one small puddle straddling a woodland path, lifting as a cloud as I passed then settling to drink as soon as I was one stride away. They must have been thirsty. I was too, and I was on my way back from a long hot walk, but the effect of their colourful wings was so mesmerising that I had to stop and grab some shots of them.

A Common Grass-blue Zizina otis and an Australian Painted Lady Vanessa kershawi perch on a raised piece of mud, while a troop of ants gather water near to the dead body of a Common Grass-blue.

A group of Common Grass-blues settle on the mud, one with very worn wings.

A Common Grass-blue drinks from the mud, two Cabbage Whites Pieris rapae stand in the background.

A group of Cabbage Whites gather on the mud.

A freshly emerged Cabbage White on the left compared with a tattered-winged older one on the right.

A Cabbage White draws water up through its long thin proboscis.

And another is attacking by an ant as it drinks. The butterflies were restless as they were repeatedly being disturbed by the ants.

The distinctive wing-spots on the upperside of a Meadow Argus Junonia villida.

As with so many butterflies, the underside of the Meadow Argus's wings are dull, this helps to conceal the insect when it rests with its wings closed.

This was the view I had when lying flat on the edge of the pool taking the photographs. It was a wonderful experience to lie there less than a metre from hundreds of butterflies fluttering around me. Just me in a wood, by a pool at ground level sharing the insects' view of the world, on a hot summer day.

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