Monday, 10 April 2017

I Always Thought That Butterflies Fed On Sugary Nectar,

but one of Brittan's rarest, 

the large blue, (Maculinea arion), eats ant larvae, and in a strange but fascinating life cycle has made itself particularly difficult to breed in captivity and if caught and killed this rarest of the rare can land you in court! this how they breed, the eggs are laid on the flower buds of wild thyme or marjoram, the larvae burrow into the flower heads and when they are about 4mm long drop to the ground and wait to be found by foraging red ants, attracting them with sweet secretions from a “honey” gland, the ants place them in their brood chamber and the larvae feed on ant grubs, they turn into butterflies, crawl above ground, and fly in midsummer, how amazing is that? but what brought this butterfly to my attention was the court case when a collector was caught catching some of them, a police inquiry was launched which resulted in the man being convicted of illegally capturing specimens of the rare and protected large blue and given a six-month suspended prison sentence, at his home near Bristol police found dozens of specimens of rare butterflies, in a strange twist the collector was in fact a member of Butterfly Conservation, but has now been removed as a member.

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