Country Corner - On the lookout for nature’s ‘misprints’

A buff tailed bumblebee with unusual colourings.
A buff tailed bumblebee with unusual colourings.

Readers of a certain age were quite probably stamp collectors in their childhood, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

Philatelists’ legend told of unimaginable riches awaiting anyone who could find a misprinted stamp – such as one with the colours reversed or better still, some of the printing upside down.

In earlier days, butterfly collectors harboured similar desires.

Aberrant or misprinted butterflies were greatly sought after treasures.

These days butterfly enthusiast tend to use cameras rather than nets, but strange morphs of pattern or colour still cause great interest.

I suppose the most regularly reported morphs are among birds.

Pied or even white blackbirds are often reported on social media or in the press.

These individuals often become well-known following repeated sightings in their chosen neighbourhood.

Over the years I may have mentioned a few of my own findings in this column.

The latest of these was this buff tailed bumblebee photographed in September.

As I watched it sipping nectar I was unsure of its identity, such was its unfamiliar diguise.

Only a bit of debate and deliberation among the online bee experts settled its species.

I have to say, misprint or not, it was a lovely looking insect .

Buff, black, white, yellow and ginger gave it a tortoiseshell cat colouration totally unlike any normal buff tailed bumblebee.

Certainly it found a few admirers among internet entomologists, especially as aberrations are much less often recorded in bees than in butterflies and moths.

In fact, it is amazing how often such morphs of the animal world appear more attractive to human eyes than their normal coated counterparts.