Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Love is like a butterfly
I beg to disagree;
Most butterflies die
After a month or two
Even the Brimstone
That Methuselah of lepidoptera
Only lives a twelvemonth
If fortune smiles upon it;
Yet in their few weeks of life
These frail children of the air
Entrance and delight us
Even if our knowledge
Does not extend beyond
Red Admiral or Peacock;
In fact there are fifty-five
Or so species in the United Kingdom
A paltry tally when compared to
France's two hundred;
But our species inspire
Fanatical devotion amongst
The coterie of aficionados
Who will travel hundreds
Of miles at the whisper
Of a Camberwell Beauty
Or Queen of Spain
Which have taken a wrong
Turn at the French coast
And ended up marooned
On English sward;
Early July witnesses
The emergence of
Apatura iris or Purple Emperor
And the fans of this iridescent
Aerial hooligan;
Wherever oak trees mingle with goat sallows
In Southern England
You can find middle-aged chaps
Huddled over pungent lures
With expensive cameras
Capturing the glorious
Sheen of purple forewings
Of the males
Or the more subdued
Finery of the larger females;
Malaysian shrimp paste
Or humble bananas
All have their devotees;
Myself I find that a fresh
Dog turd is quite acceptable
To His Purple Majesty
When I make the annual
Pilgrimage to Fermyn Woods
Sadly the tally of extinction
Mounts as the decades pass;
The Large Copper and Chequered Skipper
Are no longer to be found in England;
The native Large Blue fizzled out in
The nineteen seventies but has been
Replaced with a sterner Swedish strain;
Have you heard of Hairstreaks ?
These are little butterflies
Which escape most people's
Notice living discreetly around
Trees and bushes for a few weeks
In June and July;
The Green Hairstreak is green
The Brown Hairstreak is orange
The Black Hairstreak is brown
The Purple Hairstreak is silver
If that helps...
Once you have ticked off
The fifty-five butterflies
You can start on the
Two thousand moths;
Happy hunting !!

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