Country diary: quarry spoil is dingy skipper heaven

Hawthorn Dene, Durham: Only bird’s-foot trefoil flourishes here – but that suits these picky butterflies and the green tiger beetle that preys on them

In the flamboyant company of peacocks and red admirals, dingy skipper butterflies (Erynnis tages), with their wing patterns as subdued as well-worn brown Harris tweed, might scarcely attract a second glance. I would not have noticed them if they hadn’t risen from beneath my feet and fluttered, moth-like, low over the spoil heap on the edge of Hawthorn quarry.

Despite their dowdy colour scheme, they are very picky about habitat. They need sheltered south-facing slopes clothed in low vegetation, with patches of bare ground where they can bask on chilly spring days, and plentiful supplies of bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), their larval food plant.

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Source: The Guardian
Country diary: quarry spoil is dingy skipper heaven