Country corner


A strange tale from foreign parts. Chrissy and I along with four friends enjoyed a week’s Mediterranean cruise recently.

It has to be said, our temperate climate bestows upon us much more wildlife than our Latin friends could imagine.

However, there was one particular tiny species of butterfly we encountered wherever we went, be it Mallorca, Menorca, Corsica, Italy or the south of France.

Ensuring I had some good photos of the wee mite, I knew I could easily look it up in my books at home, or at least that is what I thought!

Searching through my books and comparing my photos to the many small species of European butterfly, I could find nothing which remotely resembled the subtle wing pattern you see here.

Here is a tip for any naturalist in a similar position.

Stick the photo on iSpot,the internet id site.

In no time at all I was informed that my butterfly was a Geranium Bronze.

Tying the name into Google then gave me the incredible news that this is in fact a South African butterfly!

Apparently eggs and caterpillars were accidentaly exported to Europe via the nursery trade in geraniums. It seems Geranium Bronze reached the Balearics some time in the 80s, from whence it spread around the Med.

There was even a outbreak in a garden in England for a year in the 90s!

However, our northern winters are not to the liking of this African in exile.

It just goes to show the surprises Nature can throw at you. Who would have guessed the most common butterfly I should see on a tour of European counties would not even be a European species!

Mind you the same thing happened with birds.

In Palma, we saw Ring Necked Parakeets and in Cannes, I photographed a wee finch which iSpot tells me is an Indian Silverbill – both aviary escapes now breeding in exile!