Sunny September brings butterfly invasion

A A A

Britain's sunny September has brought about an autumn invasion of butterflies, with thousands of red admirals, clouded yellows and large whites migrating into southern England from across the channel.

The movement has come at the end of a summer which saw the biggest migration of butterflies into the UK for more than decade, with tens of millions of painted ladies pouring into Britain from their breeding grounds in North Africa. At one stage it was estimated there were a billion painted ladies in Britain.

Butterfly migration from Europe has usually long ceased by now, but over recent days there have been numerous reports of newly-arrived insects along the south coast. Clouded yellows in particular have been observed in substantial numbers, with counts of up to 600 at coastal localities in Sussex; they have also been seen in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Kent and on the Isle of Wight.

"The fact that these butterflies are clustered so close to the coast points to the fact they are new arrivals," said Dr Tom Brereton, Head of Monitoring with the charity Butterfly Conservation. "There have also been sightings at sea, where unusually, the butterflies have been travelling north towards England, rather than south towards wintering areas."

There is also evidence that painted lady butterflies are continuing to arrive from mainland Europe, again well after migration into the UK has normally ceased.

In May this year, there was a massive painted lady immigration, following ideal breeding conditions last winter in North Africa's Atlas Mountains. It was the first year that a large-scale migration had been monitored all the way from Morocco, and there is now considerable interest in the reverse journey, as there has long been speculation that they migrate back to North Africa, although there is no solid evidence, Painted ladies and clouded yellows butterflies cannot normally survive the UK winter.

Dr Brereton said: "We are appealing to anybody who sees Painted Ladies apparently heading out across the Channel or heading south across France to go to www.butterfly-conservation.org where they can log their sighting."

The Indian summer has also helped resident butterflies to fly well into the autumn, with 20 species (a third of all UK species) still on the wing. This includes very rare second broods of white admiral and third broods of brown argus.

Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, said: "It was fantastic to see so many painted ladies and now to have all these clouded yellows. However, we have to remember that these are not native butterflies. Their appearance is the result of a rare combination of circumstances, mainly in North Africa. Most British butterflies continue to decline. Until we halt that decline the vast majority of summers will see very few butterflies in many parts of the country."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower