Saturday 17 July 2021

Giant Butterfly Back!

 Under the heading 'Butterfly back from the dead', the Daily Mail (which I buy for old time's sake and out of gratitude for the pension they pay me) announces today that 'A giant butterfly thought to be extinct in Britain has been found breeding in the country for the first time in half a century'. 
'Giant' is pushing it – it's about the same size as a Peacock – but news that the beautiful Large Tortoiseshell is breeding again on the Isle of Portland is very welcome. The story has been bubbling under for a while – there was some evidence of breeding last year – but it now appears that the butterfly might be establishing itself in that corner of Dorset. At least one specimen seems to have survived the English winter, which is a very hopeful sign. We can assume that this development is a happy result of the Minor Modern Warming, which has also attracted various exotic (and very small) continental Blues and the gorgeous Queen of Spain Fritillary to these shores. 
One likely result of the Daily Mail piece is a lot of excitement for people who have spotted the similar, but infinitely commoner, Small Tortoiseshell. I need hardly add that I have never seen a Large Tortoiseshell (even abroad), but my father did once catch one in a tea garden in the New Forest. Even then (the 1930s) it was on its way to extinction. Let's hope that now it's on its way back.

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