At last, after a miserable soggy June, the sun appears, and to mark the occasion a Painted Lady pays us a visit. No, a Painted Lady isn’t a young woman of negotiable virtue. Ours is a respectable town, and that sort of thing simply doesn’t happen here. Honest.
Rather, a Painted Lady is a butterfly, one of the few migratory butterflies seen in the UK. They spend winter in North Africa, and successive generations then work their way north every spring and summer. Significant numbers of Painted Ladies only make it to the UK in exceptional years, when the wind’s in the right direction, so we feel honoured that one has dropped by.
However, she needs to take care, ‘cos Milky Bar’s on the prowl. Milky Bar eats insects for breakfast, and for lunch, dinner and supper too, if he gets the chance. He’s the apex predator in our suburban Serengeti, and everything else with a pulse needs to take care.
Have I told you about Milky Bar? Milky Bar, or MB for short, is a cat who’s been visiting for 18 months or more. He claims ownership of our garden, but graciously allows us to use it so long as we leave him in peace to pursue his hobbies. MB’s hobbies include birdwatching, fishing and eating dragonflies. I have no doubt that he is personally responsible for a shortage of dragonflies in our part of the county.
Our garden has lots to amuse the discerning cat. Milky Bar enjoys scaling the bird table for a better view of his surroundings, and sitting for hours next to the pond, mesmerised by the fish rendered unattainable by the netting I have installed for just that purpose.
But at the end of the day MB is a just a typical moggy, so his favourite pastime is snoozing. Under the weigela, under the bay tree, under the big red rhododendron … Milky Bar’s not fussy, pretty much anywhere shaded will do to while away the afternoon.
And although he may appear sound asleep the merest flicker of his eyelid, the minutest movement of an ear or that tiny twitch at the tip of his tail are all clues to his higher purpose. At heart MB is a hunter, and insects of any shape, size or hue are his preferred quarry. Painted Ladies beware.