Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Mark Searle

30th June Update Migrant Hummingbird Hawk Moths still being seen in good numbers along with Red Admirals. There are the first signs of a new hatch of Small Whites and a few Green-viened White along with large numbers of the 'Browns' and Small Skipper now emerging Marbled White explosion? After finding a Marbled White on my tiny home meadow in Cawood I looked at the latest transect results and numbers this year are currently running 2-3 times higher than last year. It is likely we are seeing a good deal of dispersal of this beautiful butterfly so please do keep an eye out and send your reports. It is difficult to believe the Vale of York is being invaded after a good year last year!

26th June Update A larger influx of Painted Ladies but particularly Red Admirals today. The 'grey pilrims' (Painted Ladies), as often as not, are seen flying fast in a northerly direction. The much warmer weather has led to the emergence of Gatekeeper on the 23rd 4 days later than averge along with Silver-washed fritillary, our earliest ever emergence at Brockadale . Purple Hairstreak emerged on the 24th spot on schedule. Essex Skipper is the last species to emerge and it is likely already on the wing so please do look out.

Have you seen Hutchinsoni?

It has been noticeable these last 10 days or so that many of the Comma's I'm seeing are of the pale, more golden form and a few of you are also reporting this. As often as not you just see something very golden shoot past and I must admit often confuse with Silver-washed Fritillary. If your lucky enough to observe one nectaring or perched take a look at the 'tails' and colouration.

A variable proportion of the summer brood of Comma butterflies look, and behave differently from the rest. Known as the hutchinsoni variety, they are a paler orange, with paler brown undersides too, and the projections on their wings are noticeably shorter than normal. But the really unusual thing is their behaviour. The "typical" Commas in the summer brood initially show no interest in sex, and feed up on nectar until late autumn before hibernating. They then mate in the spring after hibernation. Hutchinsoni butterflies mate straight away, then die, but produce a brood of "typical" offspring that emerge in autumn, and which hibernate and mate in the spring alongside butterflies that emerged at the same time as their parents (so about 3 months older). The appearance of hutchinsoni is largely governed by day length during the caterpillar stage. They appear from mid-June into July.

Normal Dark Form

With a dark underside and more pronounced 'tails'

Summer Pale Form 'Hutchinsoni'

With a pale underside brighter golden and short 'tails'

June 22nd UPDATE Another influx of Migrants. Lots of reports of Hummingbird Hawk moths in your gardens is causing some excitement and what a sight they are! In addition we still having a fair influx of Painted Ladies and Red Admirals.

In the last few days Graylings have been seen at South Gare somewhat early and White-letter hairstreak has emerged more than a week later than average; the year remains very mixed up! Certainly the current very warm weather wil speed things up and already the transect counts are trebling as the season reaches its climax. Good numbers of Large Heath are now on the wing after a slow start this year held back by the cool jubilee period. If you wish to see them then I recommend Crowle Moors Butterfly Walk HERE. The Purple Emperor in Sherwood forest are pupating fast now and predicted to be on the wing the first few days of July. They are making a good showing in the south .