Comma butterfly feeding on Verbena bonariensis

The Lady Vanishes

The days are getting shorter and temperatures are starting to fall. The leaves on the trees and beginning to show colours of deepest crimson, flame orange and butter yellow. Yet sunny spells still continue to encourage late season butterflies on to the wing. The end of September saw the last reported Painted Ladies. Patricia Hardy recorded 2 in her Markfield garden on the 25th and Matthew Harpin noted a singleton in Coleorton on the 26th. Patricia also spotted a Red Admiral, while Matthew added 3 Speckled Wood, 3 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock and 1 Small Tortoiseshell. On the same day, Matthew also reported 2 Speckled Wood and a Comma on the Cloud Trail at Worthington. The 25th of September also marked the last reported sighting of a Clouded Yellow with a single specimen being seen by Laura Hackett in Victory Park, Cosby.

Comma butterfly feeding on Verbena bonariensis

Comma on Verbena bonariensis by Ted Gaten

Red Admirals were also reported by Paul Ruddoch on the 1st of October at Snow Hill, by Pauline Goodsell in Stoke Golding on the 11th and by Steve Lee in Enderby on the 12th. Speckled Wood sightings came in from Paul Ruddoch on the 2nd of October in Melton Country Park, Bill Bacon on the 11th in the churchyard at Stapleford Park and Steve Lee from his Enderby garden on the 12th. Only 2 sightings of the Comma have come to my attention in October, with one being reported by Ted Gaten on the 8th of October in Thurlaston feeding on Verbena bonariensis (Ted’s photograph is attached) and another by Steve Lee in Enderby on the 20th. It’s beginning to look like the ‘Whites’ season has come to an end with only one reported sighting coming in from Ted Gaten of a Large White in Thurlaston on the 8th of October.

This month has also delivered the results of the 2015 Big Butterfly Count held in the summer. The results continue to emphasise the fact that no two butterfly years are ever the same, and highlight that one years’ butterfly numbers reflect heavily on the previous summer, be it good, bad or indifferent. The biggest winner this year, and proving that butterflies can bounce back is the Holly Blue with an increase of 151% (10,334 individuals). The largest number of any single species recorded goes to the Gatekeeper with 106,995 reported, an increase of 17% on last year. The Large White also saw a resurgence after last years’ poor results with an increase of 46%, although its lesser cousin, the Small White suffered a further decline of 3%. Our summer butterflies also suffered with stalwarts like the Peacock showing a decrease of a disturbing 61% and the Small Tortoiseshell dropping 57%. Red Admiral numbers decreased by 28% and Speckled Wood by 25%. Summer migrants faired much better with numbers of Silver Y moths up by 92% and Painted Lady up 28%. If you would like to see the results in more detail, and find out how you can take part in the summer of 2016, then go to for further information.

Please continue to send in your sightings throughout the autumn and into early winter. It will be interesting to find out how our over-wintering butterflies cope with the changing and challenging season ahead.

Posted in General, Leicestershire and Rutland Butterfly Line.