A Butterfly Diary: April

Love is like a butterfly:  It goes wherever it pleases and pleases wherever it goes. 

(Click here for the song: “Love is like a butterfly”)


At the beginning of the month I saw many of the same butterflies as posted about in late March: Common Brimstones, Peacocks and Commas. A few additions appeared in April, but it is still rather early for most.

The first Orange Tips (Anthocharis cardamines, Aurorafalter) arrived on March 31st, and have been fluttering around since then. I am always happy to see these, as they provide an excellent excuse for not doing much weeding; they are attracted into my garden – to lay their eggs – by Honesty, Nettles and Garlic Mustard.  They do in fact contain mustard oil, making them taste horrible to birds… the orange wingtip is the warning: don’t eat me! They like Cuckoo flowers too (Cardamine pratensis).


I was amazed how much they seem to love the Aubretia, which has also been very popular with the bees. To me these butterflies symbolize Spring, as they are only seen flying in the months of April and May.


The next one I saw was the Green-Veined White (Pieris napi, Grünader-Weißling). It is very similar to the Cabbage White – probably the most common butterfly of all in Europe.


When I recently read that they like Bugle, Buttercups and Vetches, I was very pleased to note another few areas of the garden I MUST NOT WEED! (Yes, we have them all within the garden…) These butterflies can be found in abundance on the edge of woodland and valleys with grassy meadows.


Finally, I spotted an absolutely tiny butterfly, which turned out to actually be a moth… the Mint Moth (Pyrausta purpuralis, Purpurrote Zünsler ). It has a wingspan of only about 2 cm, and although a moth it often flies in the daytime too.


The caterpillars like mint, oregano and thyme, which grow wild in this area as well as in my garden. The moths are apparently common in dry and chalky grassland areas such as we have, although I have never noticed one before. Here the moth has landed on a Loosestrife leaf for a rest in the sun! It was very friendly and waited for me to fetch my camera – I only got one shot at it though and then it was off again.


Thou winged blossom, liberated thing,
What secret tie binds thee to other flowers,
Still held within the garden’s fostering?

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

I hope you are seeing lots of butterflies too – or at least soon will be! Even if you don’t get photos – incredibly difficult – please share what’s visiting your garden!