The Darling Buds of May

Update Number 8

Orange Tip on Bluebell. Photograph by Richard Jeffery

The weather, as usual, is a key player in determining what happens to our local wildlife, and the fate of Lepidoptera is probably more weather dependant than most. There was a flurry of butterfly sightings on the 20th and 21st of April, before the weather turned cold, wet (including sleet and hail, I must add) and windy, and nothing was then reported until the first week of May. The sudden rise in temperatures over a couple of days encouraged butterflies and recorders out into the open. The leaves on the trees have come forth in forty shades of green and the flower buds have burst open to gladden the heart of any nature lover.


Helen Ingall reported a Brimstone in her Loughborough garden on the 19th of April, and a Comma the following day. The 20th of April also brought forth a Peacock at Stuart Court, Kibworth, as seen by Brian Thompson, and also, on a busy day for Laura Hackett, a Small Tortoiseshell in Enderby, 2 Brimstone and a Peacock in Victory Park, Cosby, 3 Small Tortoiseshell in Shady Lane Arboretum, Evington and finally another 12 Small Tortoiseshell in Willow Park, Wigston. On the same day, I noted 5 Peacock braving a strong breeze on Warren Hills. On the 21st of April, Matthew Harpin recorded a Speckled Wood, a Comma and 7 Peacock at Charnwood Lodge, and then 3 Orange Tip and 8 Small Tortoiseshell at Coleorton.

As the temperatures warmed up in early May, Paul Ruddoch encountered a Green-veined White at Melton Country Park on the 3rd of May. The following day (4th) I saw the first reported Green Hairstreak (species number 12) of the season, with 4 individuals on the wing at Bittesby Wood. On the same day, Bill Bacon recorded 5 Green-veined White, an Orange Tip, a Peacock and 4 Brimstone at Plungar. On the 5th of May Tim Burke photographed a pair of Green-veined White at Lucas Marsh, Oadby.

The 7th of May turned out to be a key day for some of our rarer species, with the first Grizzled Skipper (species 13) being seen by Sarah Proud at Ketton Quarry, the first Dingy Skipper (species 14) recorded by AJ Cann at Holwell and 10 Green Hairstreak noted by John Haddon at Bittesby Wood. On the 8th of May AJ Cann also visited Ketton Quarry where he noted a pristine Grizzled Skipper and 5 Green Hairstreak. The 8th also yielded a Holly Blue in the Melton Mowbray garden of Karen Antcliffe, a Speckled Wood in Lyn Bull’s Kirby Muxloe garden, and 4 Orange Tip, a Red Admiral and a Speckled Wood on the bluebells in Burrough’s Wood, Ratby.

The 9th of May proved to be the hottest day of the year so far, and brought forth numerous butterflies. John Eaton’s visit to the Croft Hill Nature Trail produced many Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and Peacock. I walked the butterfly transect at Croft on the same day and noted all of the species recorded by John. Holly Blue, Green-veined White and Small White were photographed in the Enderby garden of Steve Lee. Helen Ingall reported Holly Blue, Orange Tip and Green-veined White along the Grand Union Canal, and Tim Burke recorded Green-veined White, Brimstone, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood on his walk from Saddington to Smeeton Westerby.

As temperatures are due to drop under the influence of North-Easterly winds later this week, it will be interesting to see how these newly emerged butterflies will fare. Please keep your sightings information coming in, and as the season progresses, for those of you with an interest in moths, also send in any sightings of day-flying moths.

Remember that information can be submitted directly to me by email or via our Facebook page (Butterflies and Moths of Leicestershire and Rutland).


Here is a provisional list of the ‘First Sightings’ of each of the 14 species reported for Leicestershire and Rutland so far:

1 – Peacock – Ibstock – Graham Bowers – 09 January

2 – Brimstone – Moira – Graham Bowers – 16 January

3 – Small Tortoiseshell – South Kilworth – Derek Spicer – 11 February

4 – Red Admiral – Sapcote Garden Centre – Richard Jeffery – 25 March

5 – Comma – various – various – 25 March

6 – Small White – various – various – 02 April

7 – Large White – Wigston – Laura Hackett – 02 April

8 – Green-veined White – Pick Triangle Wood – Sue Howitt & Rob Davis – 10 April

9 – Orange Tip – various – various – 13 April

10 – Holly Blue – Stoke Golding – Pauline Goodsell – 13 April

11 – Speckled Wood – Pick Triangle Wood – Andy Large – 19 April

12 – Green Hairstreak – Bittesby Wood – Richard Jeffery – 04 May

13 – Grizzled Skipper – Ketton Quarry – Sarah Proud – 07 May

14 – Dingy Skipper – Holwell – AJ Cann – 07 May


Posted in Leicestershire and Rutland Butterfly Line.