earth tones

The front lawn is decorated with a tapestry of leaves in shades of  russet, gold, tawny and ochre; a palette of earth colours  overlaid on the soft green of the grass. Amongst the darkening stems of fast fading flowers, a few insects continue to feed. Ladybirds still  seem to be abundant but hoverflies and bees are few. There are awkward crane flies, seemingly ill-designed for flight and an abundance of steadily fattening spiders, enjoying the bounty of the season.

On days when the sun shines, butterflies feed on sedum, verbascum and the newly opening flowers of Michaelmas daisies. Some rest with their wings open, others with them tightly closed. Glorious colours predominate on the upper surfaces whilst the underwings are duller, providing the butterfly with better camouflage. They too are coloured with earth tones, and with patterns of striking beauty.

Many Red Admirals migrate into the UK from North Africa in Spring. Butterflies on the wing now may well be the offspring of this season’s migrants and they will continue feeding into November, often on fallen and rotting fruit. The beautiful  comma also feeds on rotting fruit as well as flowers and uses its  leaf-like patterning as camouflage during winter hibernation amongst dead leaves. And the leaves continue to fall on the lawn.

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