Sunday, February 24, 2013

Garden Butterfly Review 2012

This photograph of a handsome Peacock Inachis io was the only one I managed to take during 2012. It was taken on the 23rd March in my garden during the only warm and sunny month of the year. From then onwards it was all downhill weather wise. It was the first recorded garden species in 2012 along with Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni.
These two species together with Comma Polygonia c-album and Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae will often be the first ones on the wing on warm sunny days as they all hibernate as adults. Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta is a strongly migratory species, but increasingly a few adults do manage to hibernate successfully here, and hence this may also be seen early in the year.

The first Butterflies to have been seen in my garden and with their corresponding dates are as follows:
2003 - Comma - 30th March
2004 - Small Tortoiseshell - 12th April
2005 - Brimstone - 18th March
2006 - Brimstone - 14th April
2007 - Peacock - 28th March
2008 - Brimstone and Peacock - 30th March
2009 - Red Admiral - 6th March
2010 - Red Admiral - 6th February
2011 - Brimstone - 19th March
2012 - Brimstone and Peacock - 23rd March

From the above it can be seen that February 6th is the earliest that I have seen a Butterfly in the garden. With the extreme cold weather we are currently experiencing, February looks as though it won't be appearing in the above list for 2013.

Only 11 species were recorded in 2012, which was the second lowest since 2003 (9). Red Admiral was seen in 5 months of the year, followed by Small White Pieris rapae in 4 and Peacock in 3. A very poor year all round.