I spent a little time in the garden this afternoon, chasing after butterflies. There is a particular plant, a variety of hebe, which attracted ringlet butterflies last year and today, in addition to the ringlets, a few more butterflies made their appearance, in particular a Meadow Brown Butterfly and a Small Tortoiseshell. The hebe plant isn’t the best background as it tends to make rather untidy looking photos, but it’s a good place to practice close up photography skills.
I was being just a little careful not to get my face too near to a garden spider which was sitting in its web nearby.
A little while later, from the kitchen, I spotted something dark in the spider’s web and went back to the garden to investigate. The meadow brown butterfly had become caught in the spider’s trap and was writhing and twisting in the silk of the web. The spider suddenly appeared at the entrance to the web and ran towards the prey.
I watched with fascination while the spider carefully wrapped its prey, imprisoning the butterfly with many circuits of silken threads. The butterfly was gradually crushed into a smaller and smaller parcel, the spider moving at amazing speed round and round the prey…
…until eventually it appeared to be satisfied that the prey was totally immobilised. It swung the butterfly round into the centre of the web and then took up a position at one end of the butterfly and prepared for feeding. I was very lucky to be able to catch some of the stages on camera.