Tag Archive: Dark Green Fritillary

Scottish Butterflies

2JUL11 Sgurr nan Gillian

2JUL11 Sgurr nan Gillian

I just blew in from a school mountaineering trip to the Isle of Skye, and I can tell you that the wildlife was brilliant. I saw two new British species for the year: the Large Heath and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. The Large Heaths, patrons of bogland, were the most common butterfly on the island with a grand total of 7 individuals in the space of 4 good days. I managed a slightly distant photograph (below), but didn’t manage to snap the Small Pearl. It rested briefly with its dark underwing tips betraying its identity, before zipping away across the mountainside. It was accompanied by 3 Dark Green Fritillaries battling the breeze.

Also making appearances on the trip were a glut of common frogs, a toad, gold-ringed dragonflies, common shrews squeaking in the grass, an eagle (sea or golden), wheatears, serins, and a treble-bar moth.

So now my butterfly count is getting complicated. I’ve seen 30 species this year, in NI, Virginia and Scotland, with 4 species seen before 2011. Some species occur in more than one region which is why the numbers below don’t seem to add up – they have to be taken individually. The yellow numbers are for species seen in 2011; the /silver numbers show all species I can remember seeing in my lifetime.

  • 2011 BUTTERFLIES: 30/34

    • British Isles: 19/24

      • NI: 17/22

      • Scotland: 3/4

    • America: 12/12

I did say a while back that I’d do a write-up on my Yankee butterfly experience and I’m still intending to do that… once I sort out all my white-and-sulphur sightings scattered across Virginia!

UPDATE 01AUG11: Here’s that Large Heath photograph. Don’t think it’ll be a Wildpix candidate.

02JUL11 Large Heath



I set up a Youtube account this morning, and uploaded the Dark Green Fritillary video I took last weekend, modified with Windows Live Movie Maker.

19JUN11 Small Elephant Hawkmoth

Apologies for the image quality – but isn’t that a beautiful moth?

It was certainly worth getting up at 3:15 am for! This Small Elephant Hawkmoth was feeding on honeysuckle in Murlough yesterday morning.

My camera is playing up at the moment and the photos come out covered in white lines. Must be a fault with the CCD chip. The videos were fine until I shook the camera a bit too hard and now it looks like I’ve disconnected the CCD completely! Hopefully a bit more shaking will re-connect it!

And I also saw my 14th butterfly species of the year yesterday – 3 jazzy new Dark Green Fritillaries zooming around Murlough. Here’s a photo from last year.

26JUN10 Dark Green Fritillaries

The other thing that happened yesterday was that I collected 3 caterpillars to rear: two Garden Tigers (“Ferrari” and “Maclaren”) and a Ruby Tiger (“Ron”). The GTs have been eating like crazy while Ron has spun himself a cocoon to pupate in. I suspect that they all might have parasites as they are leaving pupation very late (a sign of parasitisation) but I’m hoping they’re all OK and they’ll turn into three beautiful moths!

I didn’t realise it at the time but I also collected 26 little yellow eggs which had been laid on the Ragwort which the caterpillars were eating. They’re probably Cinnabar moths.

What – a – time for my camera to go wibbly.


Species study 2, project B: Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)
Species study 5, project B: Garden Tiger (Arctia caja)
Species study 15, project A: Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae

With all the predictions of a Marsh Fritillary Big Bang Year, I was itching to get down to Murlough to see if they had emerged. And they had!

My first butterfly of the day was my 12th species of the year: the Small Heath. It’s a small buff and orange insect, very common in the reserve (I counted over 600 in total last year!)

22.5.11 Small Heath

Not long after came number 13: the gorgeous Marsh Fritillary!

22.5.11 Marsh Fritillary

Heading from J3933 into J4033, I found this big fella: the caterpillary of the Dark Green Fritillary. He was wandering across the path and I got him crawling on my hand (very theraputic!) before putting him in a nice patch of violets, which he tucked into straight away. I’ve never seen one before – he brings my species count to 14 but the adult butterfly count remains at 13 until he metamorphosises along with his mates.

22.5.11 Dark Green Fritillary caterpillar

J4034 brought 18 more Marsh Frits, a Mother Shipton moth (looks like a witch) and best of all, a hawkmoth-of-conservation-concern: the Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth. Jeepers, what a name!

22.5.11 Mother Shipton 22.5.11 Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth

Total Marsh Frit count for the day was 22 – not quite a Big Bang, although conditions weren’t ideal (very windy, occasional heavy showers) and I didn’t have the help of two senior butterfly recorders like I did last year when I counted 57! Nevertheless, a great day.