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Butterflies and Moths Of the Parish of Uplyme 2010

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Joined: 14 Sep 2005

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Location: Rhode Hill, Uplyme

PostPosted: 27/01/11, 21:18    Post subject: Butterflies and Moths Of the Parish of Uplyme 2010 Reply with quote

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

Despite the long cold winter of 2009-10, butterflies seem to have survived quite well. They appeared somewhat later than in previous years (April 5), but most species survived the winter and some, such as the common blue, seem to have positively benefited from the severe weather. The total number of butterfly species recorded is slightly down on 2009 (22 as opposed to 23 in 2009), but the differences are as likely to result from failure to record as to genuine absence. The most frequently recorded butterfly was the speckled wood, which was seen on 114 days between April 17 and October 19. The rarest butterfly was the wall, seen on just three occasions between August 5 and 11 and twice in September. AK recorded the wall and marbled white in his garden for the first time. For a few years now AK has left a wide margin in his orchard unmown. Each winter the grasses flatten and decompose Fungi and moulds flourish on the dead material. This is one of the keys to the success of the Marbled White, since the caterpillars, which feed on grasses, absorb some of the fungal material and this renders themselves and the adult butterflies distasteful to predators. So landowners and others can encourage this butterfly (and other species) by keeping margins to fields and parcels of grass uncut.


Small Skipper Several seen at Trinity Hill between July 11 and 19.
Large Skipper Seen on seven occasions between June 23 and July 19; a much longer flight period than last year.
Dingy Skipper Once again neither generation was seen within the Parish in 2010, but it is present just across the eastern border at Ware Cliffs, Dorset, where it was recorded on May 11. Almost certainly it is still living along the undercliff within the parish. Recent scrub clearance has improved the habitat in Devon near Ware.
Wood White Appeared to have a good year. Numerous specimens on the cliffs above Monmouth Beach May 17.
Clouded Yellow Not seen within the parish for the second year running, but it is a migrant butterfly and very few were seen anywhere in 2010.
Brimstone Seen on eight occasions in April, August and October. It was affected by the cold winter as it was first seen on March 27 in 2010, compared with February 17 in 2009. Last seen on October 4.
Large (cabbage) White In 2010 the large white declined considerably in abundance from the second most frequently seen butterfly in 2008 and 2009 to seventh in 2010. It was also affected by the cold winter and was not confirmed in one of our gardens until June 4, compared with April 11 in 2009. Numbers recovered somewhat in the second generation and it was last seen on October 4.
Small White In contrast to the last two years the small white was more frequently seen than the large white. On the wing from April 20 (compared with March 22 in 2009) to October 4.
Green-veined White The least common of the three whites, but only just in 2010 having been recorded on 41 days compared with 42 for the Large White. Seen between April 8 and September 8.
Orange Tip The ‘white’ butterfly was apparently not affected by the cold winter. It was first seen on April 7 (April 5 in 2009) and last seen on May 27 (May 23 in 2009). Slightly more common than last year.
Green Hairstreak Confirmed within the parish on Trinity Hill for the first time in 2007 and seen again in 2009, but not confirmed in 2010.
Purple Hairstreak Not recorded in the parish in 2010, but almost certainly present still. It lives in oak trees and rarely descends to lower levels where it can be seen easily.
Small Copper Recorded on 14 occasions between July 18 and October 17 and apparently increasing in abundance.
Common Blue In many places the Common Blue had a spectacular year in 2010. Within the parish it was recorded frequently between May 17 and August 30 with few gaps so that it was impossible to separate the two generations.
Holly Blue The Holly Blue is renowned for dramatic variations in its abundance. It was possibly recorded twice in 2009 and one of those records was uncertain. In 2010 it was recorded in the whole parish on 24 days, which compares with 28 days within one of our gardens in 2008 and 52 in 2007. It is good to see it recovering from the low point in 2009.
Red admiral The Red Admiral had a spectacular year, being seen on 94 days in 2010 and being the second most commonly recorded butterfly. It was affected by the winter as it was first seen on April 13 (Feb 17 in 2009) but survived a little later in 2010, until November 25 (as opposed to November 22 in 2009). It is a migratory butterfly not supposed to survive our winters and there is some evidence to suggest that its first appearance was due to migration in 2010.
Painted Lady The Painted Lady is another migratory butterfly, which in 2009 had a spectacular migration with literally millions of individuals immigrating into Britain and eventually it reached Iceland. Not surprisingly sightings declined significantly in 2010 and it was only recorded four times; once each in June, July, September and October.
Small Tortoiseshell This species seems to be holding its own after a rapid decline in numbers in recent years. Recorded between April 5 and October 4.
Peacock The Peacock had a good year in 2010. In recent years the second generation has tended to feed and hibernate in summer, rather than breed and produce a third generation in autumn. Only one was seen after August 20 in 2009 (on November 4). In 2010 there were eight sightings between September and October 20, including two on October 4. It is also a species that frequently hibernates indoors. One graced CRCP’s Christmas dinner in 2010, settling on a table decoration, and it is still hibernating in our porch.
Comma The Comma also had a good year after appearing later than in 2009 (April 9 compared with March 17 in 2009).
Silver-washed Fritillary Not recorded within the parish in 2008 and only one sighting in 2009. It had a good year in 2010 with over 10 sightings between July 16 and August 18, even appearing in gardens once again. It is the only species of fritillary not declining in abundance in Britain.
Speckled Wood The Speckled Wood had an exceptionally good year in 2009 and was the most frequently recorded butterfly within the parish with 163 separate records between April 1 and October 28. In 2010 it maintained its position as the most commonly recorded butterfly, but with only 114 records between April 17 and October 19.
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. Both generations were seen in 2009, but only the second generation in 2010. Two females and a male were recorded between August 5 and 11 in one garden and it was seen on September 7-8 in another.
Marbled White Recorded on five days between June 11 and July 18.
Gatekeeper One of our commonest butterflies, seen in hedges between July 11 and August 31.
Meadow Brown Another one of the most frequently seen butterflies in the parish. On the wing between June 9 and September 15.
Ringlet A butterfly affected by summer weather. It appears consistently towards the end of June (30 in 2008, 29 in 2009 and 2010), but then survives a very variable time (September 1 in 2008, July 15 in 2009 and August 8 in 2010).

Day-flying moths

Hawkmoth Only sighting on August 27
Jersey Tiger Just two sightings in August.

Migrant Butterflies and Moths

2010 was not a good year for migrant species of insects. There appeared to be some early promise, but this was not sustained. March and April saw some Dark Sword Grass moths, but alas, no Painted Lady butterflies, which often arrive from Africa at the same time. In fact the first Painted Lady spotted was on June 9. It was noticeable that the valerian saw relatively few vanessid butterflies feasting on the nectar in late spring. Another noticeable migrant that was almost missing in 2010 was the humming-bird Hawkmoth, and no Clouded Yellows were seen.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth One seen on September 2.
Vestal Four seen between September 4 and October 5.
Gem Four between June 10 and September 10.
Bordered Straw One on June 8.
Scarce Bordered Straw Two in the first week of November.
Small Mottled Willow One on July 14.

Two migratory species, which are most probably resident in the parish

Four Spotted Footman Two in July and one in October.
White Point Ten between August 20 and September 22.

Not seen was Clancy’s Rustic. Did this recent colonizer suffer from the cold winter?

Among the smaller migratory moths were 365 Nomophila noctuella between May 29 and October 14, a higher number than in recent years. This moth, which is like a flying ant, comes to us from North Africa.

Moth species added to the Uplyme list were:

The Least Carpet Seen on July 18. Once a rarity in the British Isles, it is now spreading westwards. Caterpillars feed on traveller’s joy.

Mottled Grey Seen March 25. Not unexpected. A widespread insect, but never common.

Chalk Carpet A species on the national rarity list. Usually found in open grassland on the undercliff.

This contrasts with over 30 species that might be expected, but were not seen

Less common species recorded included:

Pale Oak Eggar, Large Emerald, The Mocha, Small Waved Amber, Alder Kitten, Brown Tail, White Satin, Scarlet Tiger, Beautiful Brocade and Hedge Rustic.

Some 20 species classified as being nationally endangered to some degree or other are to be found in the parish.

David Cox, Alan Kennard, Chris Paul
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