It is difficult for me to remember a time, even in childhood, when I was not fascinated by butterflies. Over a lifetime I have read extensively about them, bred them in my greenhouse and photographed them in the wild. One way or another, I have used a camera for many years but it is only since 2013 that I have worked systematically to raise the quality of my images to the point where I feel comfortable in sharing them with others. This website is the end result.

When I am out in the countryside with my camera people sometimes stop to talk to me. They often ask me whether what I am doing is my passion or my profession but I reply is that it is neither. It is an obsession.

It is not clear to me why this should be so. Certainly it is a privilege to be able to spend time in wild places and to be there with a purpose. Many of the mountainous regions I visit seem to have a rhythm of their own, distinct from the hustle of modern urban life. There are also multiple layers of human history hidden deep within these landscapes.

But ultimately it is the wildlife of these landscapes, and not the landscapes themselves, that calls me back repeatedly. Somehow it always seems to be the smaller beings that catch my eye, particularly the butterflies and flowers. We often think of butterflies as pretty, and we know that their lifespan is brief, perhaps lasting only a week or two in many instances. Our minds, working lazily, construct the idea that they are therefore fragile beings.

But nothing could be further from the truth. All butterflies are robust enough to survive in a hostile environment. In temperate climates they all have to find a way to survive the winter months. They need to be adaptable and flexible because their habitat is constantly changing. There are species that can be found high in the mountains and others that migrate hundreds of miles. We now know that some butterflies can fly at altitudes of up to a kilometre and routinely cross mountain ranges and tracts of sea.

Butterflies are remarkable. The fossil record, scant though it is, suggests they have existed for 200 million years. They communicate between each other in ways that we can barely understand particularly using sight and smell. Their visual world is different to ours. They have more visual pigments than we do and can see in the ultraviolet range of the electromagnetic spectrum. During courtship they use molecular quantities of pheromones to identify a mate. Using a combination of sight and smell and taste, the females can accurately locate the one particular plant they need on which to lay her eggs and can distinguish it from the vast array of other plants that grow in their environment. And all these diverse skills are packed into an organism smaller than a baby’s little finger.