Byker Butterflies

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Byker is a deprived area of East Newcastle. It’s main shopping street, Shields Road, was voted worst shopping street in England by some retail organization. However, because it is untidy and neglected, Byker Link is relatively good for invertebrates. Unexpectedly, a group of Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) were busy refuelling after their journey from North Africa. Handsome large strong butterflies, they are easily recognised. Its caterpillars feed on Mallow and Nettles.  The one pictured above was feeding on nectar rich Knapweed (Centaurea nigra).


This caterpillar feeding on clover is most likely the larva of the Narrow-bordered-5-spot Burnet moth (Zygaena lonicerae). Burnet moths are regularly seen here in summer, a crysalis of the same moth is shown below clinging to False oat grass.



Some butterflies are easier to photograph than others. I noticed a yellow/orange butterfly and a large fast flying red moth but could not identify them. This large or ‘golden’ skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) was resting on Bramble. It has a chequered pattern on its wings and thrives on long uncut grasses. The picture below of the same female butterfly with closed wings showing it’s attractive eyes and black tipped antennae .


In the morning, before going to Byker, I found a chrysalis on my Butterfly woman on the allotment while I was renewing her clothes. Insects and spiders have been making a home in them, had I known, I would have left the clothes on. This chrysalis was glittering like a golden brooch and probably belongs to the Small tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae). Their larval food plant is the Stinging Nettle which is abundant on the allotment.


Butterfly woman looks good in her new dress but she has a Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) larva, an invasive species, on her hat.


The following information is taken from: which  explains the science behind the colouration.

Many butterfly chrysalises glimmer in the sunlight with golden studs or gold leafing. Rather than looking like something living, these delicate pupa decorate the surrounding foliage like miniature ornaments. The word ¨chrysalis¨is derived from the Greek word ¨chrysos¨meaning ¨gold.¨


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