Country corner

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Those who get out and about, even if not specially interested in butterflies, can’t fail to have noticed this beauty over recent weeks.

Here is the male Orange Tip Butterfly, a species which seems to be having a very good time of it locally.

In fact, in many habitats it has been our most common butterfly so far this year.

Being so eye-catching, the male Orange Tip certainly knows how to get itself noticed and is one of those species people ask me about in questions which usually start with “You will be able to tell me this!”, before going on to describe what they have seen.

Depending on the accuracy of the description, I may or may not know the answer.

However, when anyone mentions a white butterfly which looks like its wing tips have been dipped in orange paint, you can be sure they have spotted this fine fellow.

I do not recall seeing the species as a boy.

My theory is that the Orange Tip colonised the Lothians when oilseed rape began to be widely planted on local farms.

Rape is closely related to the wild plants on which Orange Tips usually choose to lay their eggs.

So it has been an all-win situation, with rape enlivening the landscape with acres of paint box yellow colour; filling the air with its honey scent; providing honey bees with with a new nectar and pollen source; and allowing human stravaigers the chance to meet with the butterfly which dipped its wings in orange paint!

If you haven’t seen one yet, what better reason to join those who get out and about?

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