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Seen your first butterfly yet?

Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta

Vanessa atalanta

As I left the office for lunch the other day (Wednesday 28 January) I saw my first butterfly of 2015, a rather tatty Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta similar to this one I photographed last year. This took me by surprise momentarily as it was quite a cold day. It was fluttering around inside the glass canopy that covers the Holly-lined pathway that leads to the entrance of the building and that I suspect was the reason. The combination of the low winter sun and the shelter from the icy wind had warmed it sufficiently to have woken it from its slumber.

The Red Admiral is predominantly a summer migrant that most often arrives in the UK in May and June but a small population do overwinter in the south of Britain and therefore this butterfly is also considered a resident. Unfortunately this hibernation strategy is a risk as many individuals will not survive our winter unless conditions are mild.

However, global warming may help it to become more firmly established as a resident species in the future.

Have you seen your first butterfly of 2015 yet?


16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nice, Mark! I haven’t seen one yet this year.

    February 9, 2015
  2. As I look out my window and see the snow whipping around as another foot gets dumped on us, I can only wryly smile at your question, Marc. But I’m glad the insect world over there is ahead of the game here! The long hard winter may necessitate some cheating on my part, a.k.a. a trip to the butterfly conservatory.

    February 9, 2015
    • Yes I don’t envy you that snow. Here when the sun shines the first hover flies are beginning to show. Not that you’d notice today. It’s cold, grey and foggy again.

      February 10, 2015
  3. Debra #

    I haven’t seen any up close but from a distance I’ve seen what might be painted ladies and some unknown yellow and white guys.

    February 9, 2015
    • Where are you Debra? This doesn’t sound like England :0)

      February 10, 2015
      • Debra #

        The land of butterflies … Texas.

        February 10, 2015
      • Yes over 400 species I believe. How lucky are you. We have just 59 in the UK and only 44 in Wiltshire.

        February 10, 2015
      • Debra #

        But you have some of the real beauties. I -love- your blog.

        February 10, 2015
      • Thanks Debra

        February 10, 2015
  4. Nice post Marc. I am waiting with interest to see how our Red Admirals have fared over the winter. You are not that far from me, so I am seeing your sighting as a good omen. Outdoors I have seen just one Comma so far when we had a couple of freak warm days.

    February 10, 2015
  5. Yes I enjoyed your recent post ‘Interesting things you can do with a butterfly’. I think as long as we don’t get a prolonged cold or wet period their gamble may pay off. The freak warm days do seem to be waking things up quite early this year. I’ve heard reports of people seeing tortoiseshell, brimstone, comma and a few species of hover fly and honey bee.

    Maybe as you are not too far away I could pay you a visit this year as unbelievably I’ve never been to the Forest of Dean. If you’d like to see some of Salisbury Plain this summer…

    February 10, 2015
    • Hi Marc, Sorry I have only just seen this reply. Fizz and I would love to show you the forest, there are some places renowned for their Dragonflies that I have never visited. I’ll speak to you when it gets a bit warmer. I certainly would appreciate your expert eye on a walk 🙂

      February 21, 2015
      • Hello Colin, no problem. I have a friend Steve who is the county recorder for Odonata. Maybe he should come too!

        February 23, 2015
  6. I’ve seen my first 2015 butterfly on the blog of Dodrambler, does that count ? 😀

    February 10, 2015

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