Cotesia (Apanteles) glomerata, a parasitic wasp, has injected her eggs into a caterpillar & now they’re ready to hatch.
“BARRIERS TO MIGRATION” – The theme for World Migratory Bird Day, 9-10 May 2009
by year in autumn and spring majestic avian flocks depart for their long
journeys following the call of the wild and paths of their ancestors. For
some, it is a long, exhaustive and dangerous journey, sometimes stretching
thousands of kilometers from the Arctic to the southern tip of Africa and
beyond. Migratory birds have to cope with a scarcity of food, stopover sites
that are shrinking in area, predators, hostile weather and the expanse of seas,
huge mountains and endless deserts. Yet, humans have created
additional obstacles to further complicate their journeys.
Wilson reported in August 2006 the discovery of an unusual butterfly in Co Wexford by
Jimmy Goodwin. It was then believed to be the
Small Skipper. At least ten adults were seen. The report first appeared in Gaggle, August 2006,
which may be found at:
However, some doubts were later expressed about the identity of this butterfy and it was suggested that it could in fact be the very similar Essex Skipper. In 2007, careful examination of internal and external features of a number of specimens has confirmed its identity as being the Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola and not the Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris as previously reported. The main external difference between the two skipper species related to the underside of the tip of the antenna which is a orange or brown in the Small Skipper and black in the Essex Skipper. There are also small differences in markings on the upperside of the forewings of the two species. One of these differences is that the brand of androconial scales is shorter and straighter in the Essex Skipper.
The Essex Skippers preferred food plant for egg-laying is the grass Cock's-foot Dactylis glomerata. Its known habitat includes rough grassland, verges, woodland rides and saltmarsh. Intensive investigation in 2007 revealed additional sites in Co Wexford and substantial numbers of adults. This butterfly was first reported in Britain from Essex in 1889 and currently is spreading northwards and westwards from its headquarters which some years ago approximated to the area south of a line from the Humber to the Severn. It has recently become established in the southwest of Wales. It occurs throughout Europe and in Northern Africa eastward to eastern Asia. It is not known as a migrant and how and when it arrived in Co Wexford is a mystery.
Small Skipper in Ireland
photograph of a skipper taken in
the Timahoe-Drehid area, on 24 July 2011, appeared to be that of the
Small Skipper and fieldwork carried out in 2012 confirmed the presence
of a population of the species in Co Kildare.
is widely distributed in England and Wales and in the past decades has
spread northwards and into Scotland. It is found throughout mainland
Europe, North Africa and eastwards to Iran.
Typical habitat of the Small Skipper includes rough tall grassland, verges, open fields and woodland rides. In Britain it shares the same habitats as the Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) and as the two species are so very similar in appearance they are often not distinguished in the field.
Larval Food Plant:
preferred larval food plant is Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) and others
include Timothy and False Brome and since these grasses are common in
Ireland it is considered that this species, if left to its own devices,
will eventually become widespread.
A "blind" Peacock
Most butterfly species have aberrations - untypical forms, which occur for genetic reasons. Richard McCafferty reported (2006) a "blind" Peacock from Glenties, Co Donegal which corresponds to the known aberration belisaria Oberthür. This form of the Peacock is a melanic form where the ocelli (eye spots) are replaced by pale cloud-like markings and the black spots on the costa (anterior margin of the wing) are joined. This aberration is variable and may effect the forewing or hindwing only. The Peacock reported by Richard has the variation in the hindwing and he reckons that its wing span was in the range 45-50 mm rather than a more typical size well in excess of 60 mm.
Previous reports from Ireland appear to be very sparse. Dudley Westropp reported
one from Co Offaly in 1900 and Robert Allen of Co Armagh Wildlife Society saw
one c.1984 near O'Rourke's Park where the road running past Silent Valley turns
down to Annalong, Co Down.
Thanks are due to John Faulkner and Ian Rippey for providing information on this sighting
Butterfly Distribution Maps 2010-2011
Many thanks to all the recorders
Butterfly Ireland 20/04/2013
Butterfly Survey 2013
If you wish to take part in our National
Butterfly Survey please download either a Casual
or a Site
record sheet. These are in pdf
format and you will require a copy of Acrobat Reader
to open these files.
A simple Spreadsheet is also available. So if you have Excel you may prefer to submit your records in this format - the database manager will be very pleased! Records from other Databases such as Mapmate are acceptable but please export as tab-delimited file.
include a grid reference (if at all possible) or otherwise a good
description of the location and the county.
send your Irish records by email to The Dublin Naturalists' Field Club:
on interesting sightings are most welcome by email.
Monarchs in the news 2010-2011
Hot and Cold
around 10th May and temperatures ~29C on 20th!
April 20, 2013
Fall migration south begins approximately mid-August for northern Monarchs. After crossing half the continent of North America, the monarchs reach their overwintering sanctuaries, located at approximately 19.60N, 99.60W, in Central Mexico around November each year.
It's an area only 70 miles wide and within it only 12 mountaintops have the habitat the butterflies need to survive. The Monarchs roost for the winter in Oyamel fir [Sacred Fir (Abies religiosa)] forests which are at an elevation of 2400 to 3600 meters and where temperatures range from 0o to 15o C. The humidity in the forest prevents the monarchs from drying out allowing them to conserve their energy. This provides an ideal microclimate for the butterflies.
Spring migration north begins in March (untill approx. mid-June), from the monarch sanctuaries of Central Mexico. After living off their fat reserves all winter, tens of millions of Monarchs will head northward producing the next generations of Monarch butterflys.
butterflies (Danaus plexippus) from the eastern North American population make
remarkably long migratory journeys in the autumn, some extending more than 3,500
km from Eastern USA and Canada to over-wintering grounds in the neovolcanic belt
in Central Mexico.
In autumn the Small Tortoiseshell frequently enters houses in order to seek a sheltered spot to hibernate.
In earlier times in Ireland when many rooms were unheated the butterflies were able to hibernate safely until the sun of late March and early April awoke them and they were ready to fly off.
houses are usually centrally heated and the SmTs awake in the winter and start
to fly around.
suggest the best approach is to try to feed them a mixture of honey and tepid
water or fructose and water.
the suitably warmed butterfly is placed near the treated cotton wool it should
then extend its narrow proboscis (tubular tongue) and begin to feed. It
will probably do so for ten or fifteen minutes.
Feeding a Butterfly
of butterflys feeding on a sugar solution from a sponge.
Video of a captive Monarch butterfly feeding can be seen at
WOOD WHITE SPECIES FOUND IN IRELAND
Researchers at the Ulster Museum and Butterfly Conservation have made a startling new discovery: a new species of butterfly in Britain and Ireland (2001); the first to be discovered for over 110 years. The new species of Wood White (scientific name: Leptidea reali) looks very similar to the ‘normal’ Wood White (Leptidea sinapis) and has only been identified by examining the genitalia of museum specimens.
So far, the new species has been found only in Ireland (both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) and the specimens examined from Britain have turned out to be the normal species of Wood White.
The discovery was jointly made by Brian Nelson and Robert Nash (Ulster Museum) and Maurice Hughes and Dr. Martin Warren (Butterfly Conservation). This has helped explain a curious phenomenon revealed recently in The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland. In Britain, the Wood White is true to its name and found in woodland rides but is declining rapidly, whereas in Ireland it occurs in more open habitats (such as road verges, scrub and sheltered grassland) and has expanded rapidly northwards in recent decades. The phenomenon can now be explained because they are two different, but almost indistinguishable, species that may have different ecological requirements.
Maurice Hughes (Regional Development Office of Butterfly Conservation in N. Ireland) was one of the research team making the discovery. He said “This is an exciting and important discovery, which helps explain the puzzle of why the Wood White has fared so differently in Ireland compared to Britain. In Ireland we have found that the ‘normal’ Wood White is apparently confined to the scrubby woodland around the Burren in County Clare (making it the rarest Irish butterfly). The 'new' species occurs throughout Ireland, but is absent from Britain (the only one). It has also highlighted the need for renewed effort to conserve all populations of this highly threatened species. We will now be conducting further work in both Britain and Ireland to examine ecological differences and see whether we can find characteristics that can be used to separate the two species in the field.”
The new species does not yet have an English name, although the scientific name reali is derived from the person who first discovered it in continental Europe. So perhaps “Réal’s Wood White” would be appropriate.
Reproduced from Press Release by Butterfly Conservation
State of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland
* Updating the Millennium Atlas of Butterflies of Britain and Ireland *
State of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland
Web Sites of interest
This site features over 800 caterpillars of Britain & Europe.
http://www.whatsthiscaterpillar.co.uk/ >> >>
*Moth Discussion Group for
* Phenology and News of Irish Odonata
Butterfly conservation Europe Website
Status and aims
Butterfly Conservation Europe was formed in 2004 as an umbrella body with the aim of stemming and reversing the rapid decline of butterflies, moths and their habitats across Europe. It also aims to promote all activities and initiatives to conserve butterflies, moths and their habitats, including increasing the resilience of ecosystems across Europe through adaptation of land uses to sustain biodiversity in the face of climate change.
A clear focus of the organisation will be to work with a wide range of partners in Europe, both governmental and non-governmental, to implement the Conservation on Biological Diversity with respect to butterflies and moths and their habitats, and to contribute to achieving the EU target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010.
The geographical scope of BC Europe comprises all countries that are members of the Council of Europe and includes the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Russia to the Ural Mountains and the whole of Turkey.
BC Europe is a non-profit making organisation registered in the Netherlands and comprises a non-incorporated consortium (Network) of institutions and organisations working to achieve the mission of Butterfly Conservation Europe.
The conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats throughout Europe.