Wednesday, 26 June 2019

A Painted Lady Summer?

It's beginning to look as if this might be a bit of a Painted Lady summer. Not on the scale of the legendary summer of 2009, when an estimated billion Painted Ladies swept the land (as far north as St Kilda) and it was almost impossible to go anywhere, even in central London, without seeing them. A glorious sight they were, too...  This year I saw my first Painted Lady on Saturday, and since then have seen eight individuals – which might not sound like much, but in several recent years I have only seen one in the whole season. There were several to be seen on Ashtead common yesterday, where (on a warm but cloudy afternoon) I also saw my first White Admirals of the year – always a high spot for me.
  As it happens, the Painted Lady graces the cover of the Summer edition of Butterfly magazine, which also includes a rare good news story, reporting on last year's amazing summer. 'Heatwave  hastens butterfly recovery,' says the headline – but, alas, you don't have to read too far down to hit the less good news (statistically 2018 only ranked 18th best summer in the 43-year series) and the bad news (grassland species well down – though they'll surely be recovering this year, after all the rain we've had). Anyway, wherever you are, keep your eyes peeled for Painted Ladies...

8 comments:

  1. We are overrun here in La La Land Nige, with big (10-12cm wing span), colourful Monarchs. The only painted ladies I have spotted have two legs, not six, and can be identified by bright iridescent markings and EPNS ankle chains.

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  2. Ho ho – I saw a good many of the latter in Hastings today – and, come to that, quite a lot of the former, so it looks like it is going to be a PL summer...

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  3. Was rather excited as I sat reading, as I often do, on Southsea Common this morning 20 yards from the lovely Ladies Mile which is lined with Elm trees. The trees are quite famous being some of the few that survived Dutch Elm disease because of their location at the south end of Portsea island with a whole city between them and the mainland.

    On the grass in front of me was a small brown butterfly whose underwings (I couldn't see the topside) had two white lines and a splash of orange in the corner. Given the location close to the elms I'm guessing White Letter Hairstreak. I suppose I could be wrong but it seemed very similar to your experience in Cheam which you wrote about here a while back. If it was a White Letter it was the first I've ever seen.

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  4. Brilliant! The lovely White Letter Hairstreak indeed – I've yet to see one this year, but I'm looking out...

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