Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Summer (What, Summer?) Butterflies

Painted Lady - supposed to be c.18 million individuals on the wing
14 of these on our buddleia yesterday (c) 2009 R.K. Broughton
Purple Hairstreak- still a slim chance of seeing one of these
A typical view of a Purple Hairstreak (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
zoomed in a bit closer (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon
Grayling (c) 2009 Maurice Gordon - not the most exciting-looking species
Despite the on-off summer we seem to be having, there are still plenty of butterflies to be seen in the right conditions. Nearly everyone must have seen the Painted Ladies, which seem to be everywhere at the moment - press reports say there are approximately 18 million individuals on the wing. Yesterday in the warm sunshine we had 8 on our 4 buddleia bushes, but they were still outnumbered by the 14 Peacock butterflies, which are also happen to be more beautifully-coloured, but also more ubiquitous every year. There were also a couple of Small Tortoiseshells, and a smattering of Large, Small and Green-Veined Whites in the garden. In the wider countryside there is still a possibility that you may see Purple Hairstreaks. The best place to look are high in oak trees, but it's also worth checking any nearby ash trees; as in late afternoons and evenings on warm days, the Purple Hairstreaks can be seen, apparently drinking honeydew. There are a few local sites where Grayling may be encountered, but it is extremely scarce locally, and it shouldn't be disturbed on its Yorkshire breeding grounds. Maurice went to the New Forest to get close to this species. There should still be plenty of chances to see Wall Brown & Small Copper over the next few weeks if the weather dries up a bit! The Marbled Whites are very close to the end of their season, and the same may be said for the Large Skipper. Brimstones can still be encountered until the end of Sept, but in much smaller numbers than in the spring. Last year the rare Brown Argus peaked in a number of Yorkshire sites in the latter half of August. The Holly Blue should be peaking around ivy plants around the same period, but Painted Ladies (brighter than earlier in year) Red Admirals, Comma & Peacocks will be getting more common over the next few weeks & can last into November. If you feel tempted to help our beleagured butterfly species, please consider joining Butterfly Conservation, who are currently offering 3 months free membership. You will automatically be enrolled in your local butterfly conservation group: http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/text/20/join_butterfly_conservation.html

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