Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Butterflies in a Polish Summer

Summer had its fair share as well, but the predominance of more drabber, light brown colours and blander pale colours made it less awe inspiring. The main included the Dusky Meadow Brown - Likaon in Polish, a name from Greek mythology, I think. I can't see any connection, but great story from Encyclopedia Brittanica:

Lycaon, in Greek mythology, a legendary king of Arcadia. Traditionally, he was an impious and cruel king who tried to trick Zeus, the king of the gods, into eating human flesh. The god was not deceived and in wrath devastated the earth with Deucalian’s flood, according to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book I. Lycaon himself was turned into a wolf.

The story of Lycaon was apparently told in order to explain an extraordinary ceremony, the Lycaea, held in honour of Zeus Lycaeus at Mount Lycaeus. According to Plato (Republic, Book VIII), this ceremony was believed to involve human sacrifice and lycanthropy (assuming the form of a wolf). The Greek traveller Pausanias implies that the rite was still practised in the 2nd century ad.

OK, it's the Werewolf Butterfly.

Hanging around with this was the rather similarly coloured Ringlet - Trawnik in Polish, which now translates into Lawn, but I suspect that simply calling it the Grass might be closer to the original.

There were numerous white and very pale yellow butterflies, but flying along with them was the more eyecatching (Common) Brimstone - take your pick in Polish, the easiest being the Lemon (Cytrynek), but Lemon Leaf or the Summer Lemon Leaf being possibilities.

Others were far less common, such as the Small Copper, whose Polish name (Żarek) has various options, although 'Glowing Embers' sounds good to me.

Walking around the garden one day, I saw a butterfly that was much larger and differently coloured than any others, but it flew off as soon as I got close. I eventually came across it in another garden just round the corner, but again, just a quick snap and it left. It's the Old World Swallowtail - The King's Page (in the sense of Pageboy, rather than a piece of paper) in Polish: Paź królowej.

I would have no chance of identifying many of these without having my photographs and then being able to compare with my reference books. I nearly gave up on this one, but fortunately I had both upper and lower wings pictures. It's (fingers crossed) the Silver Washed Fritillary or the Raspberry Mother-of-Pearl in Polish (Perłowiec Malinowiec).

It was the under-wing that eventually decided me thanks to my 1989 Observers Butterflies, as my 1972 Mały Atlas Motyli only has top-wing illustrations. (When you take lots of photos, there must be times when near-perfect results happen by complete accident.)

I saw the Marbled White a few times in the garden, but it was around the corner again that I got a slightly better photo. "Chessboard' in Polish - Szachownica.

This last doesn't appear in Observers Butterflies, but is the summer colours of Kratnik (The Lattice) in Mały Atlas Motyli. Wikipedia (regularly referred to in trying to find out these names) tells me it's called the Map in English and that "In the UK this species is a very rare vagrant, but there have also been several unsuccessful – and now illegal – attempts at introducing this species over the past 100 years or so". Its common in Poland. This is another picture from outside the garden and I am not sure if I saw it there at all.

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