Yesterday morning, Clive Knight, walking in the reserve, found and photographed this beautiful comma butterfly.

Commas (Polygonia c-album) hibernate in bark crevices and the hollows of trees, where they are perfectly camouflaged by the pattern on their underwings. They emerge in the spring to feed on early nectar sources: blackthorn and willow catkins.

The male sets up a territory on the sunny edge of woodland or in a clearing and waits there for passing females. He makes short flights from an habitual perch to check out any flying insect that comes close in case it might be a potential mate.

The females lay green eggs, singly or in small groups, on a variety of plants but most commonly on nettles. The caterpillars, when they hatch, look like bird droppings, a disguise that protects them from predators.

Commas, unlike many species of British butterflies, have substantially increased their numbers in recent years and are spreading into new habitat. The reserve, its fields surrounded by mixed woodland, hedges of blackthorn and goat willow, and drifts of nettles, is ideal for them.

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