A Butterfly Diary (July)


Flutter by, butterfly,

Floating flower in the sky.

Kiss me with your petal wings—

Whisper secrets, tell of spring.


(Author Unknown)


There have been butterflies in numbers, but not much variety this month. I am still waiting for the elusive Swallowtail to visit me… a friend in our small village has already seen one, but it hasn’t flown in my direction yet! I am also still waiting to see a Comma and more Hawk Moths, with only two different ones making an appearance so far… so I will include them in my August diary.


The Cabbage Whites, Skippers, Common Blues and Brimstones are still very profuse, but the main visitor this month has been the Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina, Großes Ochsenauge) with the characteristic orange and the eyespot on the upper wings…


They have been feeding on the lavender, Marjoram and Oregano, and of course my prized Centranthus ruber. The larval foodplants are mainly grasses, oats etc. They are most commonly seen in this position with the wings closed, but I also managed to get one resting with open wings, and it suddenly seemed much larger – about a 4 or 5cm wingspan…


This was a male – less colourful then the female.


Next, the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus, Faulbaum-Bläuling) – such a delightful sight! A small speck of blue light flashing past, and then when it stops a moment the closed wings are equally pretty, reminding me of the fans used by Japanese ladies in hot weather


The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings.

(The words of Joyce Kilmer)


They are common here and are typically found in and around deciduous forests. The caterpillars feed on all sorts of hedgerow plants and shrubs such as Prunus, Dogwood, Buckthorn, Vetches, etc.


The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta, Admiral) is still around. You can see a photo of its outstretched wings in my June post and this photo shows it with closed wings, which I think have such an interesting texture, as well as the beautiful markings of course.



The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia, Kaisermantel) has been a regular visitor and I just have to share another photo, although this already made an appearance in my  Butterfly Diary in June


Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold,
Thou songless wanderer mid the songful birds,
With Nature’s secrets in thy tints unrolled
Through gorgeous cipher, past the reach of words,
Yet dear to every child
In glad pursuit beguiled,
Living his unspoiled days mid flowers and flocks and herds!

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


The Mint Moth ((Pyrausta purpuralis, Purpurrote Zünsler) featured in my April post has also been around again, very happy on the Marjoram, which has been flowering all month and has attracted so many bees and other insects…



Another flying wonder (although not a butterfly but I’m using poetic licence here to include it!) was this dragonfly: the Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly (Libellula depressa, Plattbauch). I showed you the male back in May, and in July the female spent several days in the rockery…


Her colouring is completely different, with no sign of the blue of the male. She really shimmered like gold in the sunlight. Don’t we have some amazingly beautiful creatures passing through our gardens!

I have also seen many of those already featured in my past Butterfly Diary posts – Peacocks, Tortoiseshells, the Marbled White and lots of Skippers.

In the UK there was apparently a Butterfly Count last week…. if anyone hears about the result, please let me know as I might miss it! Thanks! 🙂

Please share with us the butterflies you have seen this month!


Beautiful North American Meadow Butterflies Video

Rare Blue Butterflies UK

47 thoughts on “A Butterfly Diary (July)

  1. Seeing all your beautiful butterfly photos has made me realise how few I’m seeing in the garden here… really need to get on and plant more nectar rich flowers, The holly blue looks so delicate and pretty. The results of the butterfly count won’t be available for a while yet – the counting goes on until 10th August. But when they are announced there are usually dramatic reports in the newspapers detailing which species are doing well and which are declining.

    • Thanks Sarah – I’ll have to keep my eyes open from around the 10th then. I am going to sow some Phacelia in August, as that is what some farmers do here. Just hope it doesn’t get too dry next month! That might be a quick interim flower for your garden too.

  2. Love the photo of the Mint Moth. I have seen very few butterflies this summer–glad you have an active population of them. I’m impressed you can identify them.

    • I have learnt an awful lot this year by keeping this diary Susie… there are several I would not have been able to identify last year. Now I just have to remember the names – in English AND German I still get confused! 😉

  3. Lovely captures. I feel I have seen less butterflies this year but I have a feeling that it is because there are so many wild flowers blooming that they are just more spread out. I usually see the swallowtail on the Buddleia but I have seen none this year. Amelia

    • I also get the impression there is more flowering outside the garden too… it’s been ideal weather for wild plants. I hope we both get to see at least one swallowtail this summer!

  4. Such a lot of beautiful butterflies, we have most of what you have, but so far they are far too skittish to photograph! Hopefully during August they will slow down and let me photograph them. Butterflies add an extra dimension to the garden, it’s lovely to see them fluttering from plant to plant.

    • I notice too that the earlier hawk moths are much faster than the later ones. The peacocks that come late summer are much slower and more relaxed!

  5. Wonderful and beautifully captured! Never saw a mint moth in my life. Swallowtail is here – it’ll come your way eventually. Lots of meadow browns as well, hawkmoths…have you ever seen an elephant hawkmoth? I did in my Irish garden, so stunning. Maybe I should set up another moth trap -it’s amazing what you find there early in the morning.

  6. So many beautiful butterflies – stunning photos!
    Last year I came across a pale tussock caterpillar which then hatched in our house. It’s the whackiest caterpillar I’ve ever seen 🙂

  7. You have taken some really lovely photos Cathy. At last I feel as if we are seeing more Butterflies in our garden. The big Butterfly count is running in the UK again currently, so at last I being more disciplined at recording.

    • Thank you Julie! I hope you get lots of pretty butterflies visiting in August. We often get a lot once the sedums and asters start opening too.

  8. They are wonderful! Some of yours I have never seen before. I have only seen 2 in my garden this year 😦 I hope it is because they come when I am not home during the day. Thank you for sharing them!

  9. Oh that Holly Blue is such a beauty Cathy. There has been a fascinating furry moth attached to one of our house walls for a good part of today. Unfortunately it had flown off before himself had a chance to see it.

  10. What a great post. I love that Holly Blue butterfly. We have something similar called a Spring Azure but they are smaller and not as striking. This year we have seen Monarchs, a Fritillary, Black Swallowtails, Red Admirals, Spring Azures, a Clouded Sulphur, and skippers and Cabbage Whites. The Monarchs, Red Admirals, Skippers and Cabbage Whites are the most commonly seen.

    • I like all the blues – they have a lovely way of flying low across the grass looking for clover etc. You have had some great visitors too. We don’t get Monarchs here, and our swallowtails are also a bit different, but it’s interesting to hear we share some of the same ones – skippers, cabbage whites and red admirals. Thanks Jason!

  11. Some special butterflies in my July garden: Landkärtchen (summer generation), Brauner Waldvogel (Aphantopus hyperantus), C-Falter (Polygonia c-album), Russischer Bär (Euplagia quadripunctaria), Großer Schillerfalter, female (Apatura iris), Himmelblauer Bläuling (Polyommatus bellargus) and the admirable Swallowtail. Hope the swallowtail soon will visit your flower garden too.
    Like the lovely poems, Cathy!

  12. Great photos Cathy, that Holly Blue is exquisite. I am still only really seeing small whites, skippers, peacocks and small tortoiseshells here, though I did glimpse a small blue butterfly darting about on the clifftops the other day, no hope of getting a photo though!

    • I’ve been lucky to get so many photos of them this year… maybe the warm weather has slowed them down a bit, or maybe they are just vain and want to pose! 😉

  13. Beautiful pictures, I still can’t believe you manage to get so many clear shots when they’re always flitting away from me!
    It seems like there are very few in my garden this year. Even the cabbage and broccoli are worm free this year and I haven’t seen a cabbage white in weeks. That’s first.

    • I only need to stand still for a couple of minutes and they settle at some stage…. I must admit to chasing the red admiral around a bit though! No cabbage whites?! What’s your secret?!

  14. Cathy, you must have such patience to get those wonderful shots ! As soon as I get my camera out all the butterflies in the vicinity make a dash for cover! You have such a variety in your garden. This year has been a fantastic year for butterflies here.

    • That’s good to hear! Many people have reported seeing fewer so far, but August and September are good months for them too. Thanks for your lovely comment Jane!

  15. Cathy, you have taken wonderful pictures of butterflies and a dragonfly. This year I´ve observed many sortes of dragonflies. Even the butterfly-season is a good one too. Swallowtails I´ve seen since may. Especially on a river dam flowering with white carrots. The Meadow Brown and before the Skipper where dominating the scene. Now caterpillars become more visible. I found a mature Hawk Moth Caterpillar with a blue pike (Mimas tiliae). What shall I say. I was taking a photo, while our chicken came and eat it. Yersterday I have seen a caterpillar of Red Admiral.

    • Oh no! That poor caterpillar! I bet that was a feast for the chicken though. LOL! I’m glad you have seen swallowtails Uta… they are such magical creatures to watch.

  16. We have lots of blues in the garden but I’ve never seen a Holly Blue, it is such a beautiful colour. You actually seem to have quite a few that I don’t see here at all and this year there have been fewer Swallow tails which is a shame as the fennel that they need for their caterpillars is growing in abundance this year.

    • I love that shade of blue too Christina. Every year I look in vain for caterpillars on my Fennel. Maybe I should plant some more and see if that attracts the swallowtails to my garden!

  17. Pingback: Gardens Eye Journal-August 2014 | Gardens Eye View

    • Hi Karen. I wonder what pretty creatures you see then. We don’t have Monarchs, which are I think one of the most attractive American ones I’ve seen pictures of.

    • That’s wonderful Michelle. This is te first year I have made notes, but I intend to keep a diary every year now. Good luck with the caterpillars!

  18. Wonderful photos! Your garden is definitely adored by the butterflies!

    It seems that there are not too many butterflies here this summer – I wonder if our extremely cold spring has something to do with that?

    • I suppose a long cold winter must play a role. Our mild winter may be the reason for the profusion here this year… Have a great weekend Sheryl!

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