Dazzling beauty

There’s one butterfly that Bill Oddie very much wants to see - the Adonis blue. It’s a very windy day, so it’s not likely to be flying around and there isn’t much sun, so it’ll probably be hidden away in the grasses, but Bill is determined to find it. Normally he’d be looking for little sunny patches, but frankly there aren’t any today. He finds a male sunning itself and it sits on his hand. It's a much more lovely blue colour than the common blue. The other thing Bill loves about the Adonis blue is its antennae which actually, if you look really closely, are yellow and black. You can see big black eyes and a furry little body. Can you see that proboscis coming out the front and curling under? What he’s doing is getting salt from Bill's hand. One of the clues to finding these butterflies is to find a little damp patch of earth where they sometimes gather and collect salt, and of course Bill has salty fingers. The salt is inspiring him to open his wings. It’s weird you know, you can travel the world, you can see tigers in India, you can see birds of paradise in New Guinea, and yet Bill can honestly say that he finds this little insect, sitting this close every bit as exciting as those other things. There’s a rather lovely relationship between Adonis blues and rabbits. Rabbits keep the grass trimmed to exactly the right height for the butterflies. In fact, during the myxomatosis years when the rabbits declined, the Adonis blues also declined. Now the butterflies are back because the rabbits are back.

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