A Butterfly Diary – Please Join In!

Change is what makes us better people – ask any butterfly and he’ll know what I mean…


Yes, a little out of focus I know, but after chasing him round the garden I was just glad to have got a shot of him! A Comma (Polygonia c-album or C-Falter in German) is a rare enough sight, let alone in mid-March! This was March 13th to be precise. Commas overwinter and this generation will fly until June or so. They are apparently quite common in Germany, but I hardly ever see them. They have beautifully shaped wings (and are sometimes called Angelwings), and when they are closed you can see the characteristic comma shape in white on the dark background. You can see it well in the photo below which I took a couple of summers ago…


Among other plants, the Comma caterpillars like to feed on hazel and pussy willow, both of which are in our garden.


I also saw a Common Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni, Zitronenfalter) that day. It’s the yellow blur below on the left…


This butterfly has the longest life expectancy of all butterflies found in Germany – up to 12 months.

I will do my best to get a better photo this year!

Since then I have glimpsed a Peacock (Inachis io, Tagpfauenauge) and a Cabbage White (Pieris brassicae, Kohlweißling). The Peacock is one of our most common butterflies here – not to be confused with the American Peacocks. The photo below is from last autumn…


“Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold,

Thou singless wanderer ‘mid the singful birds”

(from Ode to a Butterfly, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson)

I will be keeping a Butterfly Diary this year, and posting towards the end of each month – with or without photos and with some butterfly links. If anyone would like to join in please do! It would be so interesting to hear which butterflies visit your gardens around the world!


European Butterflies

UK Butterfly Conservation Site

48 thoughts on “A Butterfly Diary – Please Join In!

  1. I’ll try to join, but photographing flowers is a stretch for me and something that moves might be just too much! I always enjoy your butterfly reports 🙂

    • That’s why I mentioned with or without photos – I find it so hard to get pictures too, but blurs are also ok. 😉 And you can always link to another reference source! I’m just curious what flies in other parts of the world!

    • That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this Sheryl, to improve my own skills at identifying them! Look forward to seeing your visitors in summer too!

  2. I’ll try to join in; I always photograph butterflies if they are about but as Frank said they do tend to move a lot so take lots of time or lots of luck to get good images. I can’t promise a diary but images of what I see, yes.

    • It would be lovely whatever you can come up with, and just a reference is also interesting. My pictures will probably all be blurry, but I finally want a record of which creatures fly through my garden!

  3. Oh Cathy, what a lovely idea! I´m keeping a “Butterfly Diary” since 2011 and am taking pleasure in watching butterflies more and more… On February 25 I saw the first Common Brimstone fluttering across our meadow and in March Common Brimstone, Peacock, Großer Fuchs and Aurorafalter. Most of our butterflies are real works of art in shapes and colours… I love them all.
    Happy butterfly watching, Cathy!

    • We see almost the same ones Elisabeth, and I should be able to name a few more of them after this exercise! Have a lovely weekend, with plenty of butterfly sightings! 😀

  4. Hi Cathy, I love blue-purple blossoms and orange butterflies in. I think I have some pictures to share 🙂 Let´s start!
    Sunny weekend ahaed in Germany! Uta

  5. Lovely to see them so soon in the year, so far I’ve just seen a Small Tortoiseshell in the garden and a Brimstone when driving through the next village! I always photograph any that I see in the garden so will join in when I see any, if I manage to photograph them!

    • That will be lovely – even if you don’t manage photos I still think it’s interesting to hear what other people see in their gardens. 😀 I have a good butterfly reference book, so it sould finally get used to the full this year!

  6. I think a butterfly diary is a wonderful idea, can we include moths? So many species of moths are becoming extinct each year in the UK and people don’t seem to care; they are the ugly sisters of the butterfly family.
    I would love to join in but it is hard to photograph them. I have seen Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Brimstones so far this year.

    • Oh definitely Chloris – I shall hopefully get some hawk moths on my Centranthus again this year, and they are just as stunning as butterflies! I probably won’t manage photos of all of my visitors either, but recording them would still be so much fun. Glad you are joining in!

    • It would be lovely to see what visits your flowers Sarah! The late and wet spring last year meant fewer here than normal, but this year is sure to be better!

    • Of course Donna. 😀 And I’m hoping everyone will also mention the butterflies that they don’t manage to capture in a photo. There are so many American ones I still haven’t seen or heard of!

    • I shall look forward to seeing what appears in your region – mid-March is exceptionally early for butterflies here, but it’s been a strange winter! I haven’t seen any hoverflies yet, but we have had a lot of bees of all descriptions which is good news.

    • Great! I think it will also force me into being disciplined and noting/looking up what I see. It’s about time I learnt the names of them all!

    • I hope I will be able to get some pictures of them all Michael – there are so many that are just way too fast for me to capture, but I can at least keep a record of them and identify them. Maybe you’ll be able to tell us what type fly around in your part of the world too!

    • That’s a great link – thanks! I hope you will manage to get a few shots too – you got a lovely photo of the comma in January. It would be good to see/hear which butterflies you see most frequently!

  7. I’m terribly interested in this, Cathy. I think keeping a diary is an excellent idea. I am really concerned with the dwindling Monarch butterfly population, and keeping a record is such a good idea. Fun!

    • There has been little in the press about dwindling butterfly numbers here, as everyone has been so obsessed with the bees dying out. The UK seems to make the public more aware of nature issues than in Germany. I shall keep my very own record and compare in future years!

      • Yes last year I think I had 4 and lots of Hummingbird Moths, the year before hundreds of Monarchs with all the others and only 1 or two moths 🙂

  8. Such beautiful pics and you’re in quite a poetical mood. Alas, spring is in the air! I’m mad about them too, the butterflies and will always post some through the year. Look forward to yours 🙂

  9. Oh what a brilliant idea Cathy. Will try to join in at some point when I’ve managed to persuade a butterfly to stay still long enough for a photo opportunity.

  10. Pingback: A Butterfly Diary: April | Words and Herbs

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