Milk or dark chocolate?
Here’s another photograph from back in July, again from Morgans Hill. This time it’s the Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus.
This example is in full sun and therefore appears to be a rather pale brown, but at least that allows you to see the detail. The plumper body suggests this may be a female. However, when freshly emerged the colour is a much darker, velvety chocolate, verging on almost black in some instances. You can get a flavour of this in the example below that I photographed in July 2012 which I’m guessing may be a male. And a very handsome butterfly it is too with the contrast of the delicate white lace-like fringes to the wing edges.
Note the variation in the spots which are much more prominent on the specimen above.
The dark colouring allows the insect to warm-up quickly and subsequently it is often found flying on duller, more overcast days. It prefers slightly damp and shady habitat such as woodland clearings and rides, meadows, hedgerows, roadside verges and country lanes. Generally avoiding the full heat of the sun. It favours the nectar of Bramble and Thistle or Wild Privit Ligustrum vulgare.
Male and female are almost identical in appearance although it is just about possible to see the faintest of sex brands on the forewings of the male. The female lays her eggs amongst the stems of various grasses. The caterpillars are primarily nocturnal and so are rarely seen but if found at dusk on warm summer evenings will drop to the ground at the slightest disturbance.