The Swallowtail’s usual foodplant, marsh thistle, was late flowering so the butterflies emerged later than usual this year. Luckily we’d given ourselves a week to find the butterfly so we had a little time to spare. An influx of Painted Ladies kept us occupied.
Thankfully the weather turned a little warmer after a few days and we started to see the odd Swallowtail.
It’s a beautiful butterfly, and very large.
On the way down south towards our next target species we stopped for a few days in search of Black Hairstreak. Unfortunately the cooler weather had delayed their emergence too and we were just a couple of days too early to see the first ones out. However, because of the dull weather we found a nice roosting Grizzled Skipper :-
Our next target species was the Lullworth Skipper, so we headed down to Dorset to spend a week around Lullworth Cove. There were skippers everywhere, but we had to look carefully as there were a lot of Small Skippers and Large Skippers as well as Lullworth Skippers.
Large Skipper roosting on Viper’s Bugloss
The characteristic ‘sunray’ markings on the upper wings of a female Lullworth Skipper
A male Lullworth Skipper sips nectar from a dandelion flower
A male Lullworth Skipper roosting on Ragwort
A mating pair of Lullworth Skippers on Viper’s Bugloss
Whilst looking for the Lullworth Skippers we also found plenty of other species :-
Mating Common Blues
A tip-off from another butterfly hunter led us on a brief detour to see Marsh Fritillary :-
Our final target species was the Large Blue, so we spent some time in Gloucestershire.
A roosting Marbled White - not our prime target, but who can resist ?
Large Blue on Wild Thyme
Female Large Blue
Large Blues mating on Selfheal flower
Female Large Blue laying eggs on Selfheal flower
So, with our last 3 target species ‘in the bag’ we thought we had achieved our aim and seen all the species of butterflies resident in the UK. However, a final check in the book revealed a butterfly that had been overlooked !
In 2011 Real’s Wood White was split into 2 species - Real’s Wood White (whose presence in Britain is questionable and therefore we hadn’t counted it as one of our species) and Cryptic Wood White (present in Ireland). So it looks like we have one more butterfly left to complete our haul. I feel a trip to Ireland coming on one summer !