Sunday, 27 July 2008

Slightly better news re butterflies

I've been blogging about the dearth of butterflies in my garden particularly on my buddleia and it's interesting to note that many other bloggers are making the same observation. With the weather today continuing the hot and sunny spell with little wind then any butterflies about should be on the wing. One of the most favoured places in the Tamar Valley for butterflies based on our past observations appeared to be a good place to visit today to perhaps get a better idea of the well being of these creatures. It is such a special little area to us that I'm not going to say exactly where we went I'm afraid! It's nice to keep some things secret you understand. However I am very happy to reveal that we certainly saw quite a few butterflies on our walk.

What was very pleasing was to see several silver-washed fritillaries on the wing, not unusual at this location. A goodly number of gatekeepers were out and about and some speckled woods. But still precious few red admirals and peacocks and as yet no tortoiseshells. It's these latter three species that normally find buddleia their idea of heaven and our walk passed many examples of the 'butterfly bush'. Perhaps I'm being a little impatient, there's still time for them to turn up.

In the late afternoon after we got back from our butterfly walk I once again checked my buddleia and was greeted by the sight of a large fritillary on it, a silver-washed I think. Wow! It has to be said though that I have very occasionally seen one in previous years on this bush.

I just want to summarise my thoughts on the butterfly situation as I see it:
  • Insect numbers as a whole seem to be well down at the moment compared with a 'good' year. Other bloggers have made similar comments.
  • Butterfly results seem to be mixed with a few species doing reasonably well and others very badly.
  • The phenomenon of certain plant species flowering earlier than in previous years is well recorded. If climate change is a reality then it is perfectly possible I guess for those various bits of nature that inter-relate with each other such as buddleia and butterflies to get out of sync.
  • Thinking of buddleia specifically there is plenty of it growing wild but as to that which we deliberately grow in our gardens then we have some control over the flowering period. I have read the suggestion that it be pruned at the end of February but it grows so fast here in the south west that perhaps it could be cut back well into the Spring. I normally do mine in March but didn't get round to much pruning this year, perhaps I should leave it till April in 2009!

Normally I don't keep a written nature diary so I'm glad that the blog is helping me out here, it's amazing how easy it is to forget the detail of what happened 12 months ago. At least it is for me!

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