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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Butterfly count 2014

A somewhat different year last year on the butterfly and moth front from previous years. The spring seemed to be fantastic for butterflies, with far more species around and in larger numbers than I normally see. However the high summer butterfly numbers and species seemed very poor, with the exception of the Gatekeeper which appeared in huge numbers this year. The later season butterflies which usually appear in large numbers i.e. Peacocks, Red Admirals, Commas etc were thin on the ground, and the biggest oddity is that very few butterflies seemed interested in feeding on my Verbena bonariensis, which I've been pushing as the best butterfly nectar plant of the lot since I started this blog! All in all though, not a bad count, totalling 36 different species of butterflies seen in Brittany last year.

Garden List:

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. Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae
13. Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia

Family Pieridae

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

Family Lycaenidae

20. Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas
21. Common Blue Polyommatus icarus
22. Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus
23. Purple Hairstreak Favonius quercus (New! and first Hairstreak I've seen in my garden; sadly no photos) 

Family Papilionidae

24. Old World Swallowtail Papilio machaon

Family Hesperiidae

25. Mallow Skipper Carcharodus alceae
26. Lulworth Skipper Thymelicus acteon
27. Large Skipper Ochlodes sylvanus
28. Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola (New for the garden)

2013's tally was 32 species seen either at home or in my hamlet, so down a few, with the notable absence of the Small Skipper, and fewer Lycaenidae (blues and coppers) last year.

Daytime flying moths:

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

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
7. Cream-spot Tiger Moth Arctia villica (New!)
8. Oak Eggar Moth Lasiocampa quercus (New!)

Same total as 2013, although some species are different.

Elsewhere in Brittany:

1. Sooty Copper Lycaena tityrus (both male and female)
2. Brown Argus Aricia agestis
3. Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae
4. Dingy Skipper Erynnis tages (New!)
5. Chequered Skipper Carterocephalus palaemon (New!)
6. Glanville Fritillary Melitaea cinxia (New!)
7. Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi
8. Wood White Leptidea sinapis

So that kind of makes up for it, having seen 3 lifers (new species never seen before) plus the Green Hairstreak which I've only ever seen once before decades ago.

Here are a few photos of some of the new species seen last year, plus a few other favourites. They have all been shown on my blog during the year so I have been saved having to do any processing, just had to search for them!

Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)

Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)

Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages)

Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia)

Cream-spot Tiger Moth (Arctia villica)

Cream-spot Tiger Moth (Arctia villica)

Oak Eggar Moth (Lasiocampa quercus), male

And a few oldies but goodies....

Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui)

Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola)

Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon), male

Map (Araschnia levana), 2nd generation

Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia), both male and female

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)

Last year's butterfly count is here. Roll on butterfly season again!


  1. What a glorious post! Your photographs are simply stunning. The Glanville is beautiful and I had never heard of a Map before- what a pretty flutter with a silly name- bit like the Wall that we get over here. I read up on Maps and discovered they were deliberately introduced to the UK in the last century but both colonies died out. The last UK record was early 1980s, they think possibly a migrant. Interesting stuff. The Cream Spot Tiger is beautiful. Sigh. Roll on summer, as you say xx

    1. Thanks CT - it felt good to do a butterfly post! The Maps are interesting because the 1st generation is quite different from the 2nd. I live just outside of their breeding zone, so I only see maybe one or two a year, and only 2nd generation ones. Well not too long to go before the odd flutter pokes its head out of hibernation on a sunny day..... :-) xx

  2. I could count my butterfly species count on 1 hand! What a great collection of macro shots Mandy and I hope you can up the number yet again in 2015.

    1. Thank you Rosie! I hope I'll see lots again, but probably fewer lifers, but that of course is the way it goes. Just hope I may see and capture the few I missed getting photos of. :-)

  3. Absolutely fabulous post, Mandy! Your photography is impressive, as always, and I'm SO envious of your count. This is the first year I'll be doing both a bird and butterfly count in my garden. Thanks for the inspiration :-)

    1. Oh yes you absolutely must get a home butterfly list, especially now your butterfly garden is getting established, Marianne! I'm surprised you haven't already done so for birds! I guess with you getting out counting with the Conservancy you have been forgetting at home. :-) Thank you.

  4. We had a lot less butterfly action last year too, the amount and diversity really surprised us the first year here. But we assuming that it was the awful weather to blame, and the fact that we didn't get out as much. But as for names....apart from the common ones I have no idea and we really must get down to identifying them better.

    As everyone else says, stunning shots as usual. Something to aspire to. I might have to nick OH's camera.....

    1. Hi Debrazzaman and thanks! I've seen some of your pics and you do have some interesting species where you are - I'd be lost and consulting my books all the time if I was living there! Still am at times..... It's understandable with your strange weather last year that that could be the reason why you saw fewer species/numbers, but here our weather was normal, so I don't understand. But I've only been really recording them for 3 years, the previous years I just enjoyed them without knowing what half of them were!

  5. Lovely post Mandy, and didn't you take some beautiful photos last year, the colour looks lovely quite a contrast to what we have at the moment. I think Butterflies were quite low in numbers last year with me compared to the year before.
    Amanda xx

    1. Thanks Amanda! It was fun to go through my butterfly photos to put this post together, and a nice job for a dreary winter's day. Let's hope this year is great from spring through to Autumn for flutterbies and everything else! xx

  6. This has to be your nicest looking blog post to date Mandy. EVERY picture is beautiful.

    1. Aww that's a sweet thing to say, Carl. It was the easiest post as I only had to go through already prepared photos and pick out my faves/better ones! And you can't beat butterflies for beauty. :-)

  7. Well you certainly out butterflied me Mandy with your large count. Some of course I couldn't expect to see here but even so, that's a great amount for your garden. Interestingly, I have recently added Verbena bonariensis to the be honest, I didn't know that's what it was, I pinched a cutting from a friend's garden towards the end of last year and it is just starting to establish itself.

    There are some very nice photos here too that you should be proud of, the texture for instance on both the Map and the Chequered Skipper is amazing.

    Here's hoping that 2015 is a great year for you for all the right reasons.


    1. Hi JJ and thanks. I wasn't expecting the total to be so high actually so was quite surprised. By the way I've just reread this and see all the errors with 'this year' and 'last year', dammit!! I still think I'm writing this post in December..... haha!
      Good luck with the Verbena - it should attract all sorts of pollinators but of course being long stemmed also sways in the breeze so can be challenging for macro photography.
      Hoping this will be a good year (eventually) too! Not planning on doing much with veggies so going to be chucking saved annual flower seeds around the veg patch to attract more buggy friends! :-)

  8. Great post Mandy, like the shot of the Brimstone as the dark background shows off the "leaf" shape of the wings nicely, and I like the way the sun pics out the veins.

    In Yorkshire we get loads of Green Hairstreak on the moors in early summer amongst the heather.

    1. Thanks Ian! Envious of all your Green Hairstreaks. The one I saw was by the coast around the Gulf of Morbihan - very far removed from moorland habitat. :-)

  9. What a lovely collection of butterfly images Mandy. I found that Common and Holly Blues were quite a rarity during that year and I never did get to see a Small Copper and only a brief glimpse of a Clouded Yellow.
    A Wall Brown, I should be so lucky as I didn't get to Dorset at the right time which is where I usually see them. However, Chalkhill Blue was on my list as usual.

    1. Hi Roy - thanks very much. I actually saw loads of Holly Blues, but mostly during the spring. Not likely to see anything that is usually found on chalky ground round here, sadly! Hopefully I'll get over to England during butterfly season this year, instead of when the weather is cold and miserable! See if I can find something different. :-)