Butterflywatch: this fine season could last into October


The drought in the east, extreme rains in the west and now the wind all over have taken their toll on the final few faded meadow browns still heroically jinking through the flowerless meadows.

I’m enjoying pristine red admirals on my late-flowering buddleias, the rare and handsome brown hairstreak (the last species to emerge each summer) continues to flourish and there are large whites a-plenty, but we’ve definitely passed peak butterfly.

The season is not quite over yet, however.

Some exciting migrants, such as clouded yellows and long-tailed blues may continue along the south coast into October.

And thanks to the glorious spring and summer, we’re likely to see extra broods of species showing strongly this autumn – speckled woods, small coppers, wall browns and even white admirals may emerge.

Although it is some months before official data can confirm this, it appears to have been an excellent summer for most of our 59 native species. Even those in steep decline, such as the wall brown, have been seen in abundance.

But the late broods aren’t all good news: for many species, they are a “development trap” because the caterpillars produced by these butterflies cannot find suitable food plants or reach the stage they require to survive the winter.


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