Observations of Brimstone butterfly ovipositing

Spring is here, with most of the summer hirundines and warblers with us and that delightful sulphur yellow herald of spring is busy ovipositing on the alder buckthorn in local hedgerows.

150424  Brimstone ovipositing hrk 40021Above: Top towards the right hand side of the image shows, in addition to the ovipositing female, an ovum (egg) laid on an emerging leaf.  Click on the image to enlarge.

In a period of around thirty minutes one female was observed as she carefully selected the buds on which she place a single egg and on just three occasions she laid two a little way apart from each other, in this period she laid around forty tiny skittle shaped ovum.  They seemed really exposed and open to predation by hungry blue tits or patrolling parasitic hymenoptera.

150424 G rhamni  ovum hrk 40026

The ovum are generally laid on exposed buds at height, that was true of the majority of today’s observations.

UK Butterflies attributes a bud with two eggs present as being either two different females or the same female visiting at different times.  Today’s observation challenges that, as it was the same female with negligible time lapse between each ovum being deposited on the same bud.

150424 G rhamni ova hrk 40029

However, there were three examples where the same female laid eggs in pairs, as shown on the above (lower) branch and on a bud leaf along the veins of the recently opened leaf.

When I returned later, a number of the initially colourless (‘white’) ovum had begun to change and showed a hint of ‘bluey-green’  but one of the pairs had gained a further ovum so whilst the image below is not of any particular photographic merit it does evidence the observation.  What I cannot offer is whether it was the same female returning or a different one laying alongside the earlier laid ovum.

150424 3 G rhamni ova hrk 40034

The moral of the story?  Get out there, even back gardens can offer budding amateur naturalists the opportunity to add to the knowledge base of our wildlife.  Despite the statutory penchant for professional consultants, there is still a case to be made that it is still the amateur naturalist who has made by far the greater contribution to our catalogue of knowledge through careful and meticulous observation and study – after all, as we learnt at our recent Annual Meeting – Charles Darwin was essentially an amateur able to follow his own line as he was not reliant upon state or commercial funding?


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