Red admirals, peacocks and new bumblebee queens

Our thistle patch came into its own again today. I have written in a previous post about the value of these so called ‘weeds’ for wildlife. Today, I counted seventeen peacock butterflies feeding on the flowers, though the show was stolen by the single Red Admiral. It was much more fickle than the peacocks and proved harder to photograph.

Red Admiral Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly

At rest, it doesn’t look quite as beautiful but still amazing patterns.

Red admiral - wings closed

Red admiral – wings closed

The peacocks are not looking quite as fresh as my previous photograph but still stunning. I don’t think I have ever seen so many at one time. There were often 3 or 4 feeding on one plant.

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly

Along with the butterflies, there were numerous bumblebees feeding on the thistle flowers too. These included some new queen bees. New bumblebee queens emerge from colonies at this time of year. They mate and then feed on pollen and nectar. This allows them to build up fat so they can hibernate over the winter (often underground in old mouse holes) before emerging next spring to start the process all over again.

White tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)

White tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) – queen

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