Butterflies in the Mist

As autumn slowly closes it grasp around us, the butterfly season still refuses to lie down and hibernate. Over recent days we have had to endure damp and misty mornings (and a few soggy afternoons), but for a few of us in the right place at the right time (alas not yours truly), the occasional sunny afternoon has brought late season butterflies out into the open to refuel before the onset of winter. On the 22nd of October, Steve Lee spotted a Red Admiral and a Comma in his Enderby garden, as did Paul Ruddoch at Melton Country Park, along with a Knot Grass larva. The following day AJ Cann noted a further Red Admiral at Egleton. Red Admirals can often be seen feeding on Ivy flowers on sunny autumn days, and also taking advantage of fermenting fallen apples, pears and plums, almost to the point of ending up in a drunken stupor.

Mark Searle paid a visit to Bagworth Heath Country Park on a sunny 1st of November and was rewarded with a haul of 12 butterflies, noting 6 Speckled Wood, 4 Comma, 1 Small Tortoiseshell and a Brimstone. Many of these were in pristine condition too, having either emerged late or dodged the worst of the weather. On the same day Matthew Harpin noted a swiftly moving ‘white’, which he feels was most likely a Small White.
A few of our hardier members have been out looking for autumn moths with some interesting visits being made to traps. On the 20th October Lyn Bull spotted a Green-brindled Crescent in her Kirby Muxloe garden, and 2 days later, Graham Calow photographed another in his Sapcote garden (courtesy of NatureSpot). Graham also recorded a Mottled Umber on the 27th, and then on the 30th noted a Sprawler and the beautiful Merveille du Jour. On the 26th of October Ted Gaten recorded, in his Thurlaston garden, a Red-green Carpet, a Yellow-line Quaker, a Juniper Carpet and a November Moth. Photographs of all the moths seen by Ted and Graham can be viewed on the Latest Sightings page of the NatureSpot website.
Butterfly sightings have certainly been thin on the ground in much of the county over the last few days (a comment echoed by several members of this group), unlike other counties who seem to have had much better weather and, as a result, larger numbers of opportunistic butterflies. It could be easy, therefore, to think that the butterfly recording season is over and put away notebooks and pens for the winter. For those of us with withdrawal symptoms already (and that includes me) there are still ways that we can get out and about and record butterfly ‘activity’. Autumn and winter are a good time to look for butterfly larvae, pupae and ova, and in doing so, try to gauge the potential numbers of butterflies next spring or summer, with good numbers of the former hopefully leading to good numbers of the latter. If you do see any larvae, pupae and ova then please feel free to share your sightings here (with photographs if possible). A good butterfly book should give illustrations of the various stages of a butterfly’s life cycle, including details of where and when to find them, and thus aid identification. If you cannot identify a species then please post it to our Facebook page where I’m sure someone will come to your assistance.
This coming Sunday, the 8th of November, we have the East Midlands Butterfly Conservation Members’ Day and Annual General Meeting. It will take place at Conkers, Rawdon Road, Swadlincote, DE12 6GA, on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border. Arrival should be for 10.00am with proceedings due to commence at 10.20am. After the formalities of the Annual General Meeting we will enjoy two talks, one either side of lunch. In the morning, Butterfly Conservation’s Martin Warren will be giving a talk entitled ‘Butterfly Breakthroughs: 50 years of learning to conserve Lepidoptera’. After lunch Derbyshire Recorder Ken Orpe will give a presentation on ‘Recording the Changing Status of Butterflies in Derbyshire’. If any of you can attend then please introduce yourself as it would be nice to put faces to names.
Please continue to send in any news of sightings or any other newsworthy items, and I’ll share them in the next Update.
Posted in Leicestershire and Rutland Butterfly Line.