Butterflies in high altitudes

Jul.30,2001. M.Sekine

A ko-hiodoshi butterflyBlowing in the wind on mountain ridges, Ko-hiodoshi butterflies (Aglais urticae) search for flowers in high altitudes. These butterflies fly from flower to flower, and hustle about vigorously. They belong to the family Nymphalidae, and live in mountainous regions. The species called Ko-hiodoshi in Japanese (meaning literally, "small, the pretty shade of scarlet strings of Japanese armor"), such as the Tateha-cho (literally, "the upright-winged butterfly"), has superb orange-and-black patterns on its inner-wing surfaces, yet when the wings are folded closed and only the outer surfaces show, it looks like a fallen leaf. They are young lively butterflies, and they enjoy the sunlight in the mountains.
They are found in northern Japan; e.g. in Hokkaido, but they also inhabit the highlands of the northern Alps and the southern Alps on Honshu, Central Japan. They live in the mountains in alpine zones.
A ko-hiodosi butterfly on flowersWhen the snow of a snow-covered ravine begins to melt away, the flower Ko-iwa-kagami(Schizocodon soldanelloides alpina) blooms. The Japanese name means small rock-mirror, referring to the plant's shiny leaves and rocky habitat. Subsequently, Hakusan-ichige, Shinano-kinbai (both of these species are members of the Rununculus family) , and Takane-bara (alpine-rose) are in full bloom at the same time. Summer has come for the alpine flora.
The Ko-hiodoshi alights on a moss-grown rock, and then flies to a Ko-iwa-kagami to extract the nectar from the flower, and then it alights onto a fallen tree. And after that, it flies out and flutters in the wind that blows in the mountains.
She flies like a fairy, so when I look at her I forget the pain of mountain-climbing for a while.


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