A good variety of spring butterflies were on the wing in late May. Especially pleasing was the sighting of a Green Hairstreak (left). This tiny butterfly actually looks brown in flight, which is the colour of the top side of its wings, but if you see it perched, always with closed wings, its under-wings are a true green. I've only come across it once before at Exbury, on a Hydrangea bush. This time it was on a Cistus flower on a bush at the edge of Daffodil Meadow. They are usually found in scrubby areas, and lay their eggs on the flowers or young shoots of a variety of shrubs and flowers.
Another colourful small butterfly basking on the mown path of Daffodil Meadow was a Small Copper. It likes warm, sunny conditions and was suited by the weather in May. It can often be found on waste ground, on heath land or along woodland rides. It is quite widespread and in a good year will produce several broods, lasting into November. Cold wet summers cause a crash in its population and it can take time for it to recover its numbers.
A third species which seems to be having a good year is the Holly Blue. This is the earliest of the blue butterflies to be on the wing, and it flies quite high, whereas most of the others remain close to ground level. Its underside is a silvery blue with tiny black spots, and it can often be seen flitting along the shrubs at eye level or above. It tends to feed on the honeydew from aphids, or on salts on the ground, so is not often seen around flowers. It lays its eggs on the flower buds of Holly; the summer brood uses Ivy. Other plants such as Spindle and Dogwood are also used. You can glimpse it almost anywhere in the Gardens, especially along paths lined with trees and bushes.