Sunday, 14 February 2016

Meeting 12th February 2016

This month's meeting of the Louth Area Group of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust featured a talk by Audrey and John Spring on "Gardening for Butterflies".

Audrey and John manage the Butterfly Garden at Chambers Farm Wood.  They described the various butterfly species that might be expected in a well planted garden through the year and also those species found at Chambers Farm Wood Nature Reserve.  There are about 60 butterfly species found in the British Isles (and over 2500 macro-moths) with 35 species regularly recorded in Lincolnshire, of which about 20 butterfly species found in gardens.

We heard how our adult over-wintering species, Brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni, Peacock, Aglais io, and Small Tortoiseshell, Aglais urticae, have already been seen this January and February.  The Comma, Polygonia c-album, should soon follow. They feed on the winter-flowering heathers and the early flowers such as Primrose, Wallflower and Pulminaria.

Aubrey and John explained how to maximise one's garden species count by growing a succession of suitable flowers through the year, with spring flowers such as Forget-me-not, Grape-hyacinth and Aubretia.  Dandelions are a common but very valuable food source in April and the somewhat similar looking Leopards Bane, Doronicum, is another useful early flower.

The Orange Tip, Anthocharis cardamines, is a fairly early species, the first that has not over-wintered as an adult, appearing in April and May.  It lays it's eggs on Honesty, Sweet-rocket and Cuckooflower, Cardamine pratensis, from which the species name is derived.  The Holly Blue, Celastrina ariolus, is another early species with adults from onver-wintering pupae emerging in April.  It feeds on the Forget-me-not and then the Red Valerian and lays it eggs on holly and, later, on ivy.

Our peak butterfly time is late July and early August when the Big Butterfly Count takes place. Our gardens are likely to host the Large White, Piers brassicae and Small White, Pieris repae, and, if one is lucky, the Green Veined White, Pieris napi.  Speckled Woods, Pararge aegeria are increasing in numbers, no longer confined to woodland while the Wall Brown, Lasiommata megera, is becoming scarcer. Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina, Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus, easily identified by its double eye-spot and Wall are more likely to be seen in the countryside but may visit gardens, as does the Ringlet, Aphantopus hyperantus, characterised by its up-and-down flight-path.

The migrant species, Red Admiral, Vanessa atlanta, and Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui, are garden visitors in high summer while species more likely to be found at sites such as Chamber Wood include the Clouded Yellow, Colias croceus, Camberwell Beauty, Nymphallis antiopaa,  Small, Thymelicus sylvestris and Large Skipper, Ochlodes sylvanus.  The Brown Hairstreak, Thecla betulae, is  a particular rarity.  A count at Chambers Farm Wood found 20 adults but 3500 eggs were recorded in a survey.

As well as managing the Butterfly Garden at Chambers Farm Wood, Butterfly Conservation also manage reserves at 

The Lincolnshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation are holding their Spring Indoor Meeting at Chambers Farm Wood Education Centre on 2nd April 2016.
Ken Wade LRPS, CPBGB whose talk is entitled "Hints & Tips for Better Nature Photographs", and Sharon Hearle, the Project Officer for East Anglia, who will be talking about her work.

The Brown Hairsteak, Thecla betulae.