The Kleiner Schillerfalter and Other Beautiful Bugs.

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One of the things which I really enjoyed in France was the abundance and variety of the butterflies. They were everywhere; although, often quite difficult to photograph. Whilst the Dordogne had been impressive in that regard, the Tarn Gorge area was better yet. What follows then is a collection of photographs of some of the butterflies, and other insects, which I saw in and around the campsite. (There will be even more butterflies to come, from various days out.)

First up, the Lesser Purple Emperor, in German the Kleiner Schillerfalter, or Smaller Shimmer Butterfly. Like many of the other insects here, I spotted this during a short afternoon wander a little way upriver. Here are the underside of the wings…

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And here when they are slightly open…

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Brown, orange and white you’ll notice, but when opened a fraction more…

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Bright, iridescent blue! Absolutely stunning. I’ve been wondering how the wings could  change colour like that and eventually tracked down an explanation: apparently the scales on the wings have tiny structures on them which diffract light waves and subsequently cause interference which gives the iridescent colour.

That was the first and, so far at least, only Lesser Purple Emperor I’ve ever seen; but there were some more familiar species about too.

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Large Skipper.

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A very tatty Peacock.

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Common Blue(?)

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Comma (Robert le Diable to the French).

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This is another species which was new to me, although they can be found in England. It’s a Marbled White.

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Dragonflies like this one…

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…were extremely common along the river’s edge. I’m pretty confident that it’s Onychogomphus uncatus, the Large Pincertail Dragonfly.

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There were more Beautiful Demoiselles…

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Although the related Banded Demoiselle…

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…seemed to be more prevalent. I think that this…

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…female is a Banded Demoiselle, because they are apparently brighter than female Beautiful Demoiselles.

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A Blue-winged Grasshopper. I wish I could show you what it looked like in flight, when those blue wings were on show. It’s not only Schillerfalters which can undergo a startling transformation of colour.

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Another female Great Green Bush-cricket, this time in our Kubb set.

Finally, back to butterflies and one that got away, just about. I saw lots of Swallowtails during our trip, but this is the only one I managed to photograph*.

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This was in the village of Les Vignes and taken from a considerable distance. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

(*The photograph in a previous post was of a Scarce Swallowtail, a similar and related species.)

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The Kleiner Schillerfalter and Other Beautiful Bugs.

10 thoughts on “The Kleiner Schillerfalter and Other Beautiful Bugs.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      The demoiselles, the cricket, two of the butterflies, and the dragonfly were all new to me this summer. Quite a few more new insects to come too. A bit of a highlight of the holiday for me, although I realise that none of the other 11 people in our party quite shared my monomania!

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I know – completely unexpected. I knew about Purple Emperor’s, they’re something of a Holy Grail for British butterfly fanciers, because they’re stunning and hard to find. I’ve never seen one. I didn’t even know that Lesser Purple Emperor’s existed.

  1. Wow! Not only are you incredibly patient to capture these beautiful images but a font of knowledge about them as well. I’d like a few of those rocks for my garden project. Perfect resting spot for the butterflies posing for you.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I wasn’t thinking of a post entirely about pebbles, but I’m tempted now. That’s how TBh describes my blog to the uninitiated: “It’s about leaves and rocks and stuff.”

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