Friday, 10 August 2012

Shetland Butterflies are never very numerous. The Large White is the only breeding species in the isles, but this is in decline.

The number of butterfly species in the world is about 15, 000 with around 55 resident in the UK. In Shetland only 14 species have been recorded, most of these only once. With the cool wet climate, Shetland is never likely to have an abundant insect population. Butterflies do not fly in the rain making it impossible to reach food plant.

Almost three quarters of the UK butterfly species have declined in the last 10 years. This has been a very wet Summer in England, making it the worst breeding season for butterflies in the last 25 years.

Shetland does however have migrant butterflies, and it always amazes me that such a delicate thing can fly such long distances.Here are a few -

Red Admiral
This butterfly, a long distance migrant from southern Europe is recorded annually, some years they are very numerous. You may be able to find these June - August in Shetland.

Painted Lady
Found most years but normally scarcer than the above species. Again a migrant from North Africa

Small Tortoiseshell
Very small numbers recorded each year in the isles. This is one species that has been declining around Sheffield with very few seen over the past 5 years.

Only occasionally seen in Shetland , usually in August

Amazingly two very rare butterflies have been seen this far north

Camberwell Beauty
Last recorded at Hermaness in 1992, with 10 records in total

Has occurred twice in 1994 and 1995, these being the only two records from Scotland.

Whether its butterflies, birds or flowers any records are important, not just of rare species which tend to form the bulk of records submitted, but the more common species which are always under recorded. I would therefore encourage everyone to submit records, even casual ones to the county recorder. Don't leave it to someone else !!

1 comment: