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Butterflies and Moths Of the Parish of Uplyme 2009

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Joined: 14 Sep 2005

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Location: Rhode Hill, Uplyme

PostPosted: 22/01/10, 20:48    Post subject: Butterflies and Moths Of the Parish of Uplyme 2009 Reply with quote

The following report is posted on behalf of
David Cox, Alan Kennard and Chris Paul

2009 was yet again not a particularly good year for butterflies, although some species seem to be adapting to the cooler and wetter summers we seem to have had for the past few years. It will be remembered for the incredible influx of painted ladies in the early summer followed by a successful second generation. Although Uplyme appears to have been too far west for the spectacular numbers seen in Dorset, for example, there were still far more painted ladies about than usual. One garden recorded painted ladies on three days in 2008 and 66 days in 2009. Only 16 species were recorded in the garden compared with 19 in both 2007 and 2008 and 21 in 2006. Nevertheless overall, those species that were recorded were commonly in greater numbers. The Brimstone, common blue, small copper, wall, green-veined white, small tortoiseshell, speckled wood and orange tip were all significantly more common this year compared with last and the average for the last 7 years. Only the ringlet was significantly less common than last year and no species was significantly less common than the average. Nevertheless, no holly blue was seen this year after quite a good year in 2008.


Small Skipper Several seen at Shapwick 12th July.
Large Skipper Seen on only five occasions between 11th and 23rd of June.
Dingy Skipper Neither generation was seen within the Parish in 2009, but it is present just across the eastern border at Ware Cliffs, Dorset, where both generations were recorded in 2009. Almost certainly it is still living along the undercliff within the parish.
Wood White Numerous at Ware Cliffs within the parish and 22nd May.
Clouded Yellow Despite the dramatic influx of Painted Ladies, this migrant was fairly rare this year and not recorded within the parish.
Brimstone The Brimstone had a much better year in 2009 than in 2008 and was seen on several occasions throughout the year. First seen 17th February.
Large (cabbage) White As last year the Large White was the second most frequently seen butterfly in 2009. On the wing from 11th April to 30th September.
Small White Again, as last year the Small White was much less frequently seen than the previous species in 2009. On the wing from 22nd March to 3rd October.
Green-veined White The least common of the three whites. Seen between 1st April and 1oth September.
Orange Tip First seen 5th April; last seen on 23rd May. Slightly more common than last year
Green Hairstreak Confirmed within the parish on Trinity Hill for the first time in 2007 and seen again 21st June.
Purple Hairstreak Recorded at Rocombe on two occasions in 2008. The first sighting within the parish since we started these notes. Its presence within the parish was not confirmed in 2009, but it was seen for the first time at Park Farm, just across the western parish boundary this year.
Small Copper Again 2009 was a poor year, but at least both generations were seen within the parish. Fairly frequent in September.
Common Blue 2009 was a better year than last year, but the common blue is still poorly recorded within the parish for such a common and conspicuous butterfly.
Holly Blue The Holly Blue was possibly seen in the undercliff near Pinhay Pumping station on 21st April, but was not again until 27th September – a very late date. This compares with 28 records within one garden in 2008 and 52 in 2007. The Holly Blue is renowned for such population crashes, but this year’s seems to have been particularly severe.
Red admiral The Red Admiral is another migratory butterfly that is not supposed to overwinter in Britain. However it is becoming increasingly common and sightings early in the year, particularly when a north wind is blowing, suggest that it is becoming acclimatized to British winters. It was the most frequently sighted butterfly in the parish in 2008, but not quite so common in 2009. Nevertheless it was both the first and last butterfly to be seen within the parish between Feb 17th and November 22nd.
Painted Lady As mentioned above nationally the Painted Lady had a spectacular migration with literally millions of individuals immigrating into Britain and eventually it reached Iceland. Individuals were not as abundant in Devon as in Dorset and Hampshire, but within the parish records increased from five sighting in 2008 to 100 in 2009. First seen in the parish on 12th May; last 28 th October.
Small Tortoiseshell A species that has been causing concern due to its rapid decline in numbers in recent years. However, there was a substantial immigration from the continent in September 2008, which appears to have colonized the parish successfully. First recorded on 13th March and last seen on 13th October, with nearly twice as many sightings in 2009.
Peacock The Peacock continues to increase in number of sighting. Both generations were recorded between the 15th March and 20th August, with a single individual seen on November 4th. Sightings late in the year have become increasingly rare over the last two or three decades. It appears that most of the second generation butterflies stuff themselves with nectar and hibernate immediately. In the past significant numbers mated and laid eggs which produced butterflies in late September and October. The reasons for the change in behaviour are not known.
Comma The Comma also continued to increase in abundance with almost twice ad many sightings within the parish as in 2008. It was seen between 17th March and 12th October.
Silver-washed Fritillary Not recorded within the parish in 2008 and only one sighting in 2009. However, it was recorded more commonly this year than last in Park Farm just over the western parish boundary. Again the poor record is almost certainly because of the poor weather during its flight period.
Speckled Wood The Speckled Wood had an exceptionally good year and was the most frequently recorded butterfly within the parish in 2009 with 163 separate records between 1st April and 28th October.
Wall The Wall still remains a rare butterfly even if reasonable colonies exist on the undercliff. However, it does seem to be recovering slowly in Uplyme parish with two males and two females seen on three days in 2009, compared with a single female in 2008. It was also recorded on 21st April as well as the 13th and 22nd August, so both generations bred successfully.
Marbled White Several flying at Shapwick on 8th July.
Gatekeeper One of our commonest butterflies, seen in hedges between 3rd July and 27th August. However, numbers seen were again relatively low due to the poor weather in the summer of 2009.
Meadow Brown Again one of the most frequently seen butterflies in the parish. First seen on 7th June and around until 13th September. As with the Gatekeeper numbers were relatively due to the poor summer.
Ringlet Another butterfly affected by the poor summer. It had a much shorter flight period in 2009 compared with 2008. On the wing between 29th June and 15th July in 2009 compared with 30th June to 1st September in 2008.

Day-flying moths

Hawkmoth Only sighting on 5th November at the flowers of Abelia
Jersey Tiger Moderately common this year in one garden. Seen between 4th and 26th August in another.

Migrant Moths

Not a good year for migrant moths despite the immigration of painted ladies.

Striped Hawkmoth One seen 27th May.
Convolvulus Hawkmoth One seen 30th August
Rush Veneer Pyrausted This small moth, which resembles a large flying ant, arrived at the same time as the Painted Lady butterflies. Between 1st June and 9th November 492 were recorded.

A number of migrant moths have become temporarily established in the parish and may become colonizers. The recent prolonged cold snap (January 2010) may thwart long term establishment. These include the White Point and Clacy’s Rustic. This is the fourth successive year for the latter, which was first recorded in Britain in 2002. Also the Cypress Carpet.

Some 14 species of macro (larger) moths have been added to the Uplyme list, including the Orange Sallow, a locally scarce moth whose caterpillars feed on leaves of lime trees. The Dusky Lemon Sallow, another scarce moth, has not been seen for five years, probably on account of Dutch elm disease destroying out wych elms.
Just over 400 different species of macro moth have been recorded in the parish in the last six years. It is likely that at least another 40-60 remain to be recorded. In addition, each year brings a few migrants, which afford some interesting surprises. Being in a coastal valley means that the chances of seeing something unusual are that much greater. The surprise for 2009 was an example of the Portland Ribbon Wave normally a resident of the Cliffside of Portland and very scarce.
The rich fauna of the parish is headed by Morris’ Wainscot only to be found in Britain on the undercliff between Seaton and Charmouth, and only locally in two other reas in Europe. Hence the concern to ensure that the cliff stabilization works proposed for the eastern side of Lyme Regis do not damage, irrevocably, its habitat.

Nature is resilient. Some species of insects de well whilsg other decline over a period. Two newcomers to Uplyme in the past two years are:

The Western Conifer seed Bug. A very striking bug (Hemiptera) first observed in Britain in 2007. One specimen was seen in 2008 and two in 2009, here in Uplyme Parish.

A small (micro) moth, the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner, which normally inhabits eastern Europe, arrived in Britain in 2006, creating havoc amongst horse chestnut tree by causing their leaves to turn brown in mid-summer. The devastation seems now to be more muted, but if you see a horse chestnut tree in late June looking as if it is autumn then this small mining moth is almost certainly the culprit. The tree is not dying.
Finally, among the micro moths one of us was surprised to see caterpillars of the China Mark Moth in the garden pond. Apparently this moth lays its eggs on the undersides of water plants. The caterpillars spend their entire life under water and pupate there too. One wonders how the moths emerge without getting their wings damaged by water. Our caterpillars cut oval segments out of the water lily leaves, bound two together with silk, and survived in the air bubble trapped between them. We counted over a dozen in August. We believe they were introduced with two water soldier plants (Stratiotes) given to us in 2008, although a few have been trapped in the parish most years apparently.

David Cox, Alan Kennard, Chris Paul
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