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THE TERRITORIES OF MALE ORANGE-TIP BUTTERFLIES NEAR SOUTHWOLD H . D . COLLINGS

1973 was a wonderful year for the Orange-tip Butterfly (Euchloe cardamines) in this part of Suffolk. On the 5th of June a male was Aying happily along the cliff edge at Easton Bavents under a cloudless sky and with a cool, fresh north-east wind. I have never seen one so near the sea before. In the next two days I saw many more near St. Felix School in Reydon and particularly along Shepherds' Lane which runs down from the main road to the marsh and it came to me that it would be interesting to find out something about the beats of the male butterflies. The lane is a hollow one, about a quarter of a mile long, with the main School buildings on sharply rising ground to the west and to the east, also on rising ground, the School sanitorium. This land is made up of the sandy gravels of the Westleton Beds and grows little but whins and brambles and the like. From its southern end a winding footpath skirts the steeply rising land at the edge of the marsh and leads to the Gordon Bridge over the Buss Creek that is the boundary between Reydon and Southwold. This narrow lane, together with the path is in all about 750 yards long and it was along it alone that the Orange-tips were seen to fly. Counting the males was not easy, but in the end it seemed that there were eight of them and so eight will be taken as the male population. T h e females were not counted. From time to time both sexes refreshed themselves with the nectar of small purple flowered vetches but I could not spot any possible kind of foodplant until a female was seen hovering round a small and tiny flowered weed belonging to the Cruciferae which was later identified by Mr. Douglas Vaughan, Southwold, as probably being "Smith's Cress". Later a number of eggs were seen on these plants and afterwards caterpillars were taken for safe rearing by Mr. George Baker, Reydon, and myself. The eight males had a fine time in the bright sunshine. If a Small White or a Small Copper happened to fly along, it was at once buzzed and then allowed to go and the same went for a female Orange-tip, but if a male Orange-tip had trespassed on another's territory it was straightway attacked and a whirling dogfight followed tili one of the brawlers broke away and made off. One could not know who had won, but it seems to be well established that, amongst animals as a whole, the owner of the territory always wins his symbolic battle for status.


MALE ORANGE-TIP BUTTERFLIES

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Taking these eight male Orange-tips, spread over an area of about 750 yards long and never more than about 10 to 12 yards wide and often much less, it would seem that the length of each ones narrow territory was about 90 yards or so. H. D. Collings, B.A., 23 Station Road, Southwold, Suffolk.

The Territories of Male Orange-Tip Butterflies near Southwold  
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