Jeff Clarke Ecology

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White On

White On

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Having just returned from my latest tour of the Pyrenees in partnership with Teresa Farino of Iberian Widlife Tours I was struck by the number of 'white' butterfly species we had seen. It is a very late spring in that part of Spain, nearly a month behind normal. Often this tour would be dominated by fritillaries and various Lycaenid butterflies; this year many of those species had not yet emerged, but the abundance of White butterflies provided some compensation.

The star of the show was the Peak White (Check out this image from Teresa), we connected with at least two specimens on top of Tossa d'Alp, but this was amply backed up by Orange-tips (surely one of the loveliest of spring butterflies),  Green-veined White, Small White, Large White, Bath White, Western Dappled White, Wood White and Black-veined White. Quite a list and that's not counting the related family members like the clouded yellows.

I managed some pleasing images despite really only taking snap-shots and I think my favourite is the seriously under-regarded Large White. They tend to be dismissed in the search for gaudier fayre, but when you take the time to look they really are a large and very striking butterfly. On top of that their whiteness protects them from predators, warning of potent poisons within, so they remain unmolested, whilst birds like flycatchers and redstarts happily shred the dandified fritillaries.

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