Surprise Swallowtail.

Last Friday night I went to an event at Elford Hall Gardens, Staffordshire. The gardens here are very beautiful and the site is one of my favorite spots. At the site they have lots of volunteers to help maintain it and make it such a lovely place. At the site there is a walled garden, an orchard, paths all around and the River Tame flowing through at the far end. Along with maintaining all the flora here the fauna is also very important to them. When I visited in the summer there was a whole variety of different butterflies about, dragonflies and damselflies down by the river and a range of different bird species. At the gardens badgers can also been seen along with recorded evidence of an otter at the river.

When I went to the event last Friday night we were moth trapping. Two different types of moth traps were set up. A lot of moths were caught and identified and I also had a brilliant time! Along with the moth trapping event last week it was good to catch up with the site manager there, Dave. Back in early July he took on a project to introduce some swallowtail butterflies to the area.

In the early stages they resemble bird droppings and it is only later on that they get their full colours as in the photo. By mid August they were starting to pupate and  I could see 5 fixed to the top of the sleeve around their host plant of fennel.

These pupae should of wintered in that state to emerge late May, early June of 2015. But then one emerged on the 2nd of September. It stayed around the site for a few hours, posing for photographs. The remaining pupae are now in a cool area and he hopes they will emerge, as intended, next year. Swallowtail butterflies are native to the UK but very rare. Here are some brilliant photos of the swallowtail at caterpillar, pupae and imago stages.

Swallowtail#2 Swallowtail#3 Swallowtail#4 Swallowtail#1

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