SInce we got back from Scotland there has not been enough time to go walkabout. We are both heads down in our respective offices churning stuff out with the occasional wistful glance through the window to see what the weather is doing. A brief interlude yesterday, however, when the garden filled with dozens of butterflies. But it’s back to work today, sadly.
One of the earliest butterflies to emerge from hibernation in April and once thought to be the origin of the term “butter-coloured fly” which eventually became “butterfly”. Not so apparently. In Old English the word for butter fly was: butterfloege. The theory goes that over time as the English language evolved and accents changed butterfloege became butterfly. There are similar words for butter fly in old German and in old Dutch: ‘botervleig’ and ‘butterfliege’ respectively. Another German name ‘milchdieb’ means ‘milk-thief’ and may refer to the habit that butterflies once had of being attracted to buttermilk. In eastern Europe where ancient farming methods have not died out, butterflies are still sometimes attracted to buttermilk being hand-churned in farmyards.
A Silver Y moth Autographa gamma
These are astonishing little brown moths that often fly in the day and hover with a fast whirring action. They are indigenous to southern Europe, north Africa and Asia and migrate to the UK twice a year, first in Spring and then again in late Summer.
Silver y moths vary in colour from purple-grey to almost black, but they all have the characteristic ‘y’ mark on each forewing.