Small Tortoiseshell
Small Tortoiseshell

I was chatting to Wikipedia, and he mentioned that tortoises are crepuscular. You wouldn’t think that, to look at them, would you? When I gave in and asked him what on earth he was talking about, he explained that it means active during the period immediately before sunrise and immediately after sun set – dawn and dusk to you and me. I can manage the dusk part but not (by choice) the dawn part. This means that I do not have a bimodal activity pattern and, by preference, I am firmly vespertine. I feel much more relaxed now I understand the situation fully.

I’ve always wondered about tortoises and turtles. Wiki P mentioned that a good guide is that tortoises have feet and turtles have flippers. We just won’t go into tortoises with webbed feet. When it comes to Tortoiseshell butterflies, I have to confess that they never looked like a tortoise’s shell to me. This guy, sitting on his thistle, with his wings folded, does actually look a little like the tortoises I remember coming across, as I roamed the wilds of Africa in my youth. Dirty brown, perfectly camouflaged, looking like staggering clods of the dry parched earth – if you were lucky enough to find them up and about. It’s when the butterflies open their wings I have a problem – that black, orange, yellow and blue pattern would look quite silly on a tortoise.

But then I often think that biologists and naturalists would make great fantasy writers.

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