Wildlife watching in gardens in Spalding area

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A regular column by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s Rachel Shaw.

Summer is definitely a time for enjoying the outdoors.

For wildlife watchers this is when insect life is most abundant and the best time to get to know moths, dragonflies, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, bugs and, of course, butterflies.

Arguably the prettiest of our insects, a range of different butterfly species could be visiting your garden.

These include small tortoiseshells, red admirals, peacocks, painted ladies, commas, speckled woods, large whites, green-veined whites, and small whites.

If you venture further afield into the countryside or to a nature reserve you could spot even more species such as gatekeepers, ringlets, meadow browns and perhaps common blues and small coppers.

Some butterflies really do live up to their names. Small coppers have small coppery orange wings spanning about 3cm; specked woods are brown with cream speckles that look like the dappled sun in a woodland; commas have ragged-looking orange and brown wings and if you get a chance to look closely at the underside of the hindwing, there is a small white comma-shaped marking.

I’ve never seen one but apparently the caterpillars of comma butterflies have brown and white flecks which make them look like bird-droppings and help to camouflage them!

One of our largest butterflies is the painted lady. They are mainly a pinky-orange above, with black tips to the forewings adorned with white and black spots and a wingspan of about 7cm.

Painted lady butterflies are migrants to the UK from North Africa, the Middle East and southern Europe during the summer. Sometimes, as happened in 2009, they can be seen migrating here in enormous numbers. It’s wonderful to see them feasting on the nectar of thistles and buddleia.

Alongside them you may spot day-flying moths such as the silver-y, which has a characteristic silver y-shaped mark on the forewings, or if you’re really lucky, the hummingbird hawkmoth. These moths are greyish-brown with bright orange hindwings. It is their flight that is their distinguishing feature: they hover over flowers and feed with their long proboscis. They flutter their wings so quickly that the flashes of the hindwings make them appear orange and there is an audible hum.

Enjoy the summer, and the abundance of wildlife that can be seen in nature.