Wings torn, probably very old.
No interactions present.
In Dorset we had the main hatch right at the start of July this year, so this insect may well be a month old. I was going to say that this is a lot for a butterfly but I don't think a great deal is known about insect longevity outside of the laboratory.
Dear Bob, how long do butterflies normally live? Is there much difference between species?
This butterfly certainly looks tatty, even for a comma. However, I would expect them to have hatched at least a week later than in Dorset.
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Dear Graham, why would you expect them to have hatched at least a week later than in Dorset? Is it because it's colder in Manchester?
Many animals and plants resond to triggers, for example light levels, climate, weather etc. This is known as phenology. For example, butterflies will emerge when conditions are right for them. We do not fully understand the triggers, even in bird migration where people have been studying the effects of triggers for over a hundred years.
We see the effects of these triggers as seasons, eg spring is when the weather gradually gets warmer and drier (Ha!). The further north you are the later spring starts, therefore, the later animals and plants react. That is why I would expect butterflies to emerge earlier in Dorset; not quite because Manchester is colder, but because it generally warms up later than Dorset. Global warming throwing this system out of kilter.
I could bore you with a lecture on this subject, however, there is a wonderful recording site, "Nature's calendar" which explains it far better than I, and it is a chance to participate in something useful.
Dear Graham, thank you for the website! I've registered as a member, it looks very good and I'll certainly go on it again.
Iris, I'm afraid I really don't know how long they live, but I would guess a few weeks at the most. Those that overwinter, like the peacock and small tortoiseshell, would of course live a lot longer. The problem is that to answer the question you would have to mark the butterfly in some way, so that you know when you catch it again, and this action is bound to affect the butterfly's survival - probably adversely. The same argument has been said against bird-ringing.
Survival in captivity is often several months, but in the wild most butterflies - as with all animals- are more likely to be eaten by a predator than die of old age!
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