Admirals and vanessids

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These are large, brightly coloured butterflies, often with jagged edges to their wings and with a powerful, flitting flight. Both the peacock and small tortoiseshell are a common sight in gardens. The adults hibernate through winter to lay in the spring.

The red admiral and painted lady, by contrast, are immigrants, arriving here from Europe in the spring but unable to survive our winters. They too are a common sight in gardens, the red admiral arriving here regularly every year, the painted lady less reliably.

The comma, with its conspicuous ragged wings, is a butterfly of the woodland edge, found around most wooded areas. The white admiral is an exclusively woodland butterfly that lays its eggs on honeysuckle. In Essex it has just a few colonies in the north-east of the county.

© Tony Gunton