Sunday, 22 May 2016


2013: British Butterflies
The previous time Royal Mail issued a butterfly set was way back in 1981 but then they treated us to ten stamps in 2013.  They chose the  artist Richard Lewington, who specialises in insects, to illustrate and he talks about it here on his website.  His initial submissions to Royal Mail persuaded them not to use photographs but they stipulated that they must appear on a white background as if the butterflies were in flight.  The species chosen were a mix of the common and rare which are, clockwise from the left:
1) the Comma (Polygonia c-album) whose numbers crashed in the mid 1800s but by the 1960s they had resumed high numbers once again, sometimes described for identification purposes rather unkindly as a tatty tortoiseshell.  2) Orange Tip (Anthocharisc cardamines) of which I saw my first one of the year last week so I know the season is well on the way now. 3) Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) 4) Swallowtail (Papillo machaon) the largest and rarest British native butterfly who can be seen in the fens of the Norfolk Broad with their plant of choice the Milk Parsley 5) Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra coridon) found on chalk downlands and sometimes on limestone in the south of England. The inclusion of ants on the cancel above is because the larvae and pupae make secretions which attract ants and the presence of ants on bare ground gives the pupae protection at this vulnerable stage of their life cycle.
The other five of the set clockwise from the left:
1) Purple Emperor (Apatura iris) only present in southern England and always called 'His Majesty' by butterfly enthusiasts who are dazzled by its shimmering colours in sunlight. 2) Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) who as the name implies like a bit of damp under wing.  Their numbers can crash for no apparent reason and then recover again. 3) Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), one of the few species that hibernate as an adult, the females are a paler whitish green than the buttery yellow male.
Its angular shape and veining means when it roosts it can resemble a leaf but in postal life can disappear beneath anything but a light cancel.
4) Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) whose checkered black and white can be seen in chalk and limestone grassland
5) Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) arrive from the Mediterranean in spring or summer.  I imagine with this year's mild winter some may even have joined the very small number that  hibernate here.  

Our butterflies in the UK are small in the number of species but  now travel to a different continent and they are in abundance 
1965: Rwanda Butterflies
and although I'm envious of that fact Africa has other insects I'm rather glad aren't around here.  The designer, J Van Nolen, has shown a group of butterflies fluttering in the air which always brings to mind summer days. These are Colotis aurigineus, the African Golden Arab. Next is the Hesperus or Emperor Swallowtail (Papillo hesperus)
On the left is the Broadly Green-Banded Swallowtail (Papillo bromius Chrapkowskii).  Despite this set being called Rwanda Butterflies a day flying moth has sneaked in and happily and unexpectedly I can fully tick both boxes of this week's theme of Butterflies or Moths. This is the Amphicallia pactolicus moth, I haven't been able to find its common name.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Butterflies or Moths - flutter by See It On A Postcard for more 


FinnBadger said...

The British set is stunning, and thanks for the link to the artist's comments. Unusual to see groups of butterflies on a stamp as you've shown with the ones from Rwanda.

Eva A. said...

Oh, so many beautiful stamps in this post! I love the cancellation, it's so original.

And so it is the stamp from Rwanda with five butterflies.

Bob Scotney said...

Every time I see a caterpillar I'm reminded they do all the work and the butterfly gets the glory. We are celebrating seeing the first Orange Tip we have ever had in the garden this year. I missed the GB set - one to covet.

Ana said...

Those FDCs are fantastic! Fantastic!! So many beautiful posts today - goes well with the nice spring day outside that finally arrived after days and weeks of cold and rain :)

Heleen said...

The Atalanta (Red Admiral) is one of my all time favourite butterflies. So nice to see him/her here!
I love the caterpillar postmarks, tmo they are a great addition to the stamps / FDC's.

Thank you for sharing!

violet s said...

Those caterpillar postmarks are lovely.
I rally must look harder to see more butterflies out in the 'wild'; I seem to be limited to recognizing the monarch and some little white thing whose name escapes me at the moment. Speaking of names, they do seem to be almost regal many times, don't they?