Meanwhile…

Back in East Hagbourne, there are Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars on the nettles Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) larva

According to UK Butterflies they are a bit late, but if fully-grown they should pupate soon and re-emerge in time to hibernate as adults.

Small Tortoiseshell numbers have plummeted in recent years, possibly because of parasitisation by Sturmia bella, a parasitic fly that has recently reached the UK from continental Europe, though it’s not yet clear why the Small Tortoiseshell seems to have suffered more than other species that this fly commonly attacks. The Sturmia bella controversy provides some interesting background, and suggests that this is only part of the reason for the decline.

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