Today, February 14th, I saw my first butterfly of the year. It was large and lemon coloured and against the clear blue sky it was a thing to behold. Or that is what its behaviour was intended to impress upon male rivals and female potential mates. The Brimstone is usually the first butterfly of the year to emerge. Today’s one would have hibernated through the Winter in evergreen cover such as Holly or Ivy and then the sudden warmth of today’s weather would have awoken it from hibernation.
When the female is eventually fertilised, she will lay her eggs on the leaves of a buckthorn bush or small tree. These have small white flowers, thorns, and later in the year simple leaves and then black berries: beneath the bark the wood is yellow. The next time you wonder about removing a small inconspicuous shrub that is growing at the back of a border look out for the tell tale yellow below the bark. If it is a Buckthorn keep it, for the sake of the Brimstone.
And as our climate changes for the hotter, more of these delightful insects will survive the Winter and so become part of our Spring time garden life.