We are excited to be supporting Derbyshire Wildlife who have a Butterfly Open Day at Hoe Grange Quarry this weekend. The disused limestone quarry is owned by Longcliffe Quarries and is now a nature reserve for butterflies and wildlife. Why not walk across the fields to find out more about these amazing insects? The Open Day runs from 11am to 4pm on Sunday 17th June.
Butterflies conjure up images of sunshine, warmth, and meadows full of colourful wildflowers teaming with life. However butterflies are fragile which makes them quick to react to change so their struggle to survive is a serious warning about our environment.
Hoe Grange Quarry Nature Reserve
Having a butterfly reserve next door to us at Hoe Grange Holidays is wonderful news and we have certainly seen an increase in the number of butterflies around our farm and gardens.
The quarry is 4.75 hectares and has not been worked since the 1970s so a wonderfully diverse mix of habitats has developed, which are ideal for insects, butterflies and moths. It lies over the other side of the High Peak Trail near the sign for Hoe Grange Cutting and is just a short walk from our log cabins.
The quarry has areas of bare ground which provide the perfect place for insects to sunbathe, surrounded by beautiful flower rich short limestone grassland. The edges of the quarry are covered in taller grasses and woodland, and there is also a disused dew pond under restoration.
The environment at Hoe Grange Quarry is so rich in food for the insects that a total of 26 different species of butterfly have been recorded. The site is now managed by Derbyshire Wildlife in conjunction with the Butterfly Conservation Trust, whose volunteers have been walking a weekly transect of the quarry and recording their findings.
Amongst the butterflies are some BAP species (Biodiversity Action Plan) which are conservation priorities because of their rarity and rate of decline, including the Dingy Skipper, the Wall Brown, and Small Heath.
It’s also fantastic to see that there are some local species including Dark Green Fritillary and the Peak District version of Brown Argus. The most prevalent is a large colony of Common Blues due to its food plant, Bird’s-foot-trefoil, colonising the entire quarry floor when the site was abandoned to wildlife in the 1970’s.
Fifteen fascinating facts about Butterflies
- It is estimated that there are about 24,000 species of butterflies, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica.
- Butterflies are not just attractive colourful insects, but valuable pollinators of plants, fruit and vegetables.
- I love the fact that a group of butterflies is sometimes called a flutter.
- Butterflies vary in size from a tiny 1/8 inch to the largest species reaching a massive 12 inches across. Females are larger than males and also live longer!
- Butterflies eyes are made of 6,000 lenses and can see ultraviolet light. They rely on their eyesight for vital tasks, like searching for mates of the same species and finding flowers to feed on.
- Butterfly wings move in a figure of 8 motion and the top butterfly flight speed is 12 miles per hour, which is slow compared to some moths that can fly 25mph!
- Butterflies are cold blooded and air temperature has a big impact on their ability to function. They cannot fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees.
- Butterflies and insects have their skeletons on the outside of their bodies, called the exoskeleton, to protect them and keep water inside their bodies so they don’t dry out.
- Butterflies have taste receptors on their feet so they can find out whether the leaf is good enough food for their caterpillars before they lay their eggs on the leaf with special glue.
- A butterfly’s life cycle is made up of four parts, egg, larva (caterpillars), pupa (chrysalis) and adult.The process by which a caterpillar magically transforms into a butterfly is completed in 10 to 15 days, depending on the species.
- The story of the Very Hungry Catarpillar is true to life as from hatching to pupation, a caterpillar increases its body size 30,000 times!
- Fully grown caterpillars attach themselves to a suitable twig or leaf before shedding their outside layer of skin to reveal a hard skin underneath known as a chrysalis.
- An adult butterfly will eventually emerge from the chrysalis where it will wait a few hours for its wings to fill with blood and dry, before flying for the first time.
- Adult butterflies only feed on liquids, usually nectar and can live from between just one week and a year, depending on the species.
- Despite popular belief, butterfly wings are clear – the colors and patterns we see are made by the reflection of the tiny scales covering them.The Painted Lady is the most commonly found butterfly in the world.
We hope you have enjoyed our fascinating facts about butterflies. Here at Hoe Grange Holidays we encourage the butterflies and bees by growing flowers in the gardens – it’s a win, win – butterflies thrive on the nectar before the flowers are cut, then our holiday guests can enjoy the vibrant scented blooms in their log cabins!
Why not make space in your garden for butterflies and bees by planting flowers to create a pollinators paradise?