Summer Butterflies

#30DaysWild no 22. With the sunshine coming back at Wheatland Farm, so are the butterflies, like this Painted Lady.

Lots of the summer butterflies are a sort of orangey/red and white colour – the red admirals, the peacock butterflies with their colourful fake ‘eyes’, the small tortoiseshells with their pretty blue trim. In comparison, Painted Ladies an sometimes look a little faded or dull. They are anything but! We’ve covered the Painted Lady’s amazing migrations and lifecycle before, so today we’ll just welcome them – and the other butterflies we’ve seen at Wheatland Farm so far this year:

Brimstone (the next generation of caterpillars is still busy munching through the alder buckthorn bushes outside Nuthatch Eco Lodge, just as they have in previous years).

Meadow Brown and Large Skipper butterflies, both spotted in the past few days.

Red admirals and Peacocks, some of which overwinter and so can be found earlier in the year.

Orange tip butterflies – now largely gone for this year, as they are very much a spring species and we watch for them over the lodge field and try to encourage cuckoo flower, their larval food plant.

Green veined whites and Speckled Woods – the former seen over the grassland, the later in the dappled shade along the path behind the eco lodges.

Others we’ve not seen yet – no common blue nor even a holly blue on the ivy at Otter Cottage so far this year, no dingy skipper or marbled white (maybe they were one offs), no green hairstreak either. Should we worry? We’re not sure. Some will come later. Common Blue butterflies have 2 generations a year and generally we see ours more reliably in August. Ringlet butterflies will come later too, as will Small Skipper. Silver Washed Fritillary could be just around the corner.

But we would have liked to have seen a few more of the scarcer spring species. Ah well. However hard we try at Wheatland Farm, we can’t cover all the bases. That’s why it’s important everyone does their bit – stand up for your local verges, plant bee and butterfly friendly plants in your garden, and join in with the Big Butterfly Count when it starts later in the summer.

Previously on #30DaysWild

This time last year: Butterflies were on our mind again as we’d seen a Silver Washed Fritillary near the wildlife pond below Balebarn Eco Lodge.

This time in 2019: we were also celebrating butterflies around the eco lodges – but small tortoiseshells. Some years we see nearly none. In 2020 they were fairly numerous. They generally go up in numbers after a hot summer. In 2021 we’ve seen a few – more than in some years, but not more than one at a time.

This time in 2018: Four spot chaser dragonglies were at the wildlife pond. In 2021 they’re still flying this year too.

This time in 2017: We were collecting wildflower seeds and spreading more into the lodge field, especially in front of Beech Lodge. It really does hold its own as a spring meadow now, and we managed it with patch mowing to prolong the flowering season.