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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Butterfly count 2013

2013 has been a fantastic butterfly year! I've seen ten new butterfly species and three new daytime flying moths, plus some of the usual species have been more abundant. It's been a great year for Painted Ladies and Clouded Yellows, and I've seen many Brimstones, all through the summer as well as early spring, which is when they are normally about. Scroll down past the list for photos of the new species.

I've included in my butterfly count a few species that I didn't see at home, but did see in my hamlet, so very close to home.

Family Nymphalidae

1.   Peacock Inachis io
2.   Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
3.   Painted Lady Cynthia cardui
4.   Comma Polygonia c-album
5.   Marbled White Melanargia galathea
6.   Map Araschnia levana (2nd generation)
7.   Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
8.   Wall Brown Lasiommata megera
9.   Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina
10. Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus
11. Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus
12. Lesser Purple Emperor Apatura ilia (New!)
13. Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae (New!)
14. Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia (New!)

Family Pieridae

15. Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines
16. Clouded Yellow Colias croceus
17. Large White Pieris brassicae
18. Small White Pieris rapae
19. Green Veined White Pieris napi
20. Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni

Family Lycaenidae

21. Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas
22. Common Blue Polyommatus icarus
23. Sooty Copper Lycaena tityrus (New! saw both male and female)
24. Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus (New!)
25. Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus (New!)
26. Brown Argus Aricia agestis (New!)

Family Papilionidae

27. Old World Swallowtail Papilio machaon

Family Hesperiidae

28. Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris
29. Mallow Skipper Carcharodus alceae
30. Lulworth Skipper Thymelicus acteon (New!)
31. Large Skipper Ochlodes sylvanus (New!)
32. Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola (New!)

Daytime flying moths:

Of the colourful moths which fly during the day and spend time feeding on flowers, I've seen:

1. Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum
2. Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth Hemaris fuciformis
3. Jersey Tiger Moth Euplagia quadripunctaria
4. Silver Y Moth Autographa gamma 
5. Cinnabar Moth Tyria jacobaeae 
6. Five-spot Burnet Moth Zygaena trifolii (New!)
7. Fiery Clearwing Moth Pyropteron chrysidiforme (New!)
8. Garden Tiger Moth Arctia caja (New!) - this is actually a nocturnal moth but I found one in the veggie patch during the day!

Lesser Purple Emperor - probably the most exciting due to the fact that these
butterflies don't feed on nectar, but usually spend most of their time up in
the treetops feeding on honeydew, therefore it's rare to see one!

Small Tortoiseshell - they used to be a common species
but I haven't seen one here since I don't know when.

Silver Washed Fritillary - the first fritillary I'm aware of seeing here.

A female Sooty Copper - I also saw a male one in the hamlet.

One of my favourites, the Holly Blue.
All the tiny blues and coppers have this cute look though.

Long-tailed Blue, only seen once and is really tiny!

Brown Argus - another nice surprise as I thought at first it was
something I'd already seen before. It's important to pay attention
to those markings on the underwings!

Onto the Skippers. This is the Essex Skipper and it's quite hard to distinguish
between this and the Small Skipper, but the red tips to the antennae are the key.

Large Skipper - this one is a male.

My favourite of the Skippers - a Lulworth Skipper (female).
Both male and female visited my garden over a period of about 5 days with
a preference for the lavender flowers. These butterflies are miniscule!

Although I took these photos on coastal heathland I actually saw one at long last in my garden!
I'm pretty sure this is the Five-spot Burnet Moth which seems to vary in the markings,
although the one I saw in my garden is like the one top left.

Pure luck that I noticed this tiny Fiery Clearwing Moth!

Whereas this Garden Tiger Moth in my veg patch was somewhat easier to notice!

I also saw three new species of butterfly on holiday in May, a Wood White (Leptidea sinapis) in SW France, and the Western Marbled White (Melanargia occitanica) and a Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus sp.) of some kind in northern Spain on the Mediterranean coast.

A Grizzled Skipper which just landed at my feet and I didn't dare move!

Given that I saw the last butterfly here, a Red Admiral, on 20th December, it's been a good, long and spectacular season for my favourite insects!


  1. Replies
    1. My pleasure and thank you David for looking and commenting!

  2. Muy bonitas !. Las mariposas y otros insectos son muy difíciles de fotografiar.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you for your nice comments. I love photographing butterflies and insects! I hope that you can read this - I used a translate program to read what you wrote. :-)

  4. The butterflies are here even if we don't notice them. I had a Small Tortoiseshell flying at Christmas near the window.... Sometimes I have butterlies inside that I have not noticed outside, for instance once in my wardrobe : "l'Écaille chinée ou Callimorphe (Euplagia quadripunctaria)"

    1. Hi Cergie! The Small Tortoiseshell was one I kept finding in my mother's house in autumn - I think they want to come inside in the warm to hibernate! The other one you mention I see here quite a lot but very often it is against the glass of the window - it also wants to come inside!

  5. very nice I did not count mine but it is about the same as you this year

    1. Hi Dan, thanks very much - and you are lucky because your butterfly year doesn't end! :-)

  6. What a magnificent collection, and so well documented, Mandy!
    The only ones I managed to capture (once in a blue moon) are the Common Yellow and one or two others, whose names I don't even recall, despite your having identified hem for me :)))

    1. One was a Common Blue (your blogger profile photo), and you saw one that I've never seen - the Geranium Bronze which is an introduced species and a pest! Thanks very much Marie-Helene! Most of the butterflies I recognise now so it is really exciting when I discover something new. I just love butterflies! You probably gathered that by now.... :-)

    2. I have indeed, and thanks for refreshing my memory :)))

  7. Excellent documentation! How wonderful to have so many species close to home! (I have to do a bit of traveling to see this many but at least I get to see them so I'm not complaining) Best of luck seeing even more in 2014 :-)

    1. Thanks Marianne and I hope you have a good year for them next year, as I remember you were a little disappointed this year. Even so, I thought you'd seen tons during the spring and I enjoy seeing all yours. :-)

  8. What a fabulously Beautiful Butterfly Count. Love this my friend

    1. Hi Virgil - thanks very much for visiting and commenting and glad you enjoyed it. :-)

  9. What a great selection of macros Mandy. That Fiery Clearwing Moth looks amazing - an insect I've never even heard of it before. I could count my butterfly/moth species on one hand. I really hoped to find some hummingbird hawk moths this summer as it was so warm but none appeared in the garden when I was about.

    1. Thanks very much Rosie! I hadn't heard of the F. C. Moth either but thanks to other people's photos in which I've seen similar kinds of moth, I knew to head for a Clearwing moth to start my IDing. It's a real shame the Hummingbird Hawkmoths didn't get up your way this summer. I hope you see more flutterbies next year!

  10. Thanks for the link to this page Mandy...
    These are all great but for me the stars are the Long-tailed Blue, Sooty Copper and the clearwing moth. I have always wanted to find one of those. Anyhow, very impressive and against my tally for the same year, you win by 10 including the moths!

    1. Thank you JJ! I haven't totted up yet but this year's garden list won't be as long - though the butterfly year is not over yet. :-) I loved the Long-tailed Blue as well - it was adorable.