Subject Knowledge Booster – species focus

As well as specific school-orientated resources, we’ve started updating our ‘UK Wildlife’ pages with useful subject knowledge. Over time, lots of different species will be added there. Now and again, some especially useful or interesting examples will be featured on the main blog page, too. With so many ‘classic examples’ of organisms, as dictated by the curriculum or just their preponderance in popular consciousness, we often forget some of the great examples lurking on our own doorsteps and back gardens. Such examples are nice to throw in to remind kids that, for instance, camouflage isn’t just a distant process exclusive to far-away chameleons and polar bears. The fact that there are examples that they might actually be able to go and find can really help to engage them. In addition to the photographs, the species will be featured in fact-files  use these as you wish, for your own reference, to give to children for research tasks, or as a reading comprehension resource.

To kick things off, and to fit in with the new Butterflies 101 page, here’s a nice example of a camouflaged species native to our shores…

 

THE GREEN HAIRSTREAK

Callophrys rubi

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The Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) is often overlooked. Our only majorly green butterfly, it is about the size of a thumbnail. It’s not really rare, although according to Butterfly Conservation, last year’s sodden summer caused numbers to drop 68%. What it is, is easily ignored. In fact, the Green Hairstreak’s camouflage is two-fold. The upper side of its wings are a dingy brown, making it inconspicuous and hard to follow in flight. When it settles, it always keeps its wings closed, the green being a good match for the hawthorn leaves it is fond of perching on. Keen sunbathers, the butterflies tilt themselves toward the sun so that their wings absorb the maximum amount of spring sunshine. As they do so, the iridescence of their wings makes them seem to change from a gold-ish green at one  extreme angle to almost turquoise at the other.

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A charming little butterfly, with its tiny teddy-bear face, you can catch it on heathland and moorland across the country from April to June. The examples below are from the Longshaw moors in Derbyshire.

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Related resources

More information on the Green Hairstreak at the superb Butterfly Conservation-affiliated website Uk Butterflies: http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=rubi

Here is an abbreviated factfile that you could use…green hairstreak factfile

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Filippa Levemarks Blog

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