Back in the middle of summer i visited Prees Heath in Shropshire to see the rare Silver studded blues - plebeius argus, Prees Heath is the only location for them in Shropshire and it has a huge colony, last year over 1000 individual butterflies were counted in one morning! the site is on an old airfield runway which is very exposed to the wind which was to be a big problem all day!
Unfortunately this year the weather had been warm one day , cold the next , so the butterflies started emerging over a number of weeks and not in a very short period like last year!.
This was the first time i actually met Gillian :)
The first silver stud i shot was a newly emerged male , as it was breezy i had to hold the stem in left hand while holding it high enough to be sheltered out of the wind by a large shrub and shoot single handed! the IS on the 100mm L macro came in handy!
Followed by a Small Heath coenonympha pamphilus also sheltering in the same area!
As the temperature started warming up the silvers started appearing in good numbers, and found a few emerging being cleaned by the ants .unfortunately Gill did not arrive in time to see this event! late as usual !
There is a special relationship between the butterflies and the ants, to survive the silver studded blue requires the presence of ants together with open ground with bell and ling heather near the ants nests. the caterpillar is tended by the ants as it feeds and then it turns into a chrysalis underground in the chambers of the ants nest! The ants benefit by feeding on a honey like substance excreted by the Caterpillar, when the butterfly emerges it is helped out of the nest and then cleaned by the ants as its wings unfold! it is an amazing site to see! i hope these shots and videos tell the story.
A couple of closer views shot with canon mpe-65 macro lens.
Shot with 100mm L
Here is a video of a female silver surrounded by males!
( click u tube icon for larger view)
and a male perched on grass stem! clearly shows the differences in colour!
And a mating pair!