Butterflies Galore

Coombes Valley

Coombes Valley
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Coombes & Churnet Valley

Butterflies Galore

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May is over and the horrible wet and windy weather seems to have gone with it, at least it had until today anyway. So far June has brought beautiful sunny skies and with sunshine come butterflies. The meadows on the reserve are currently chock full of wildflowers, perfect habitat for butterflies.

Within the last few weeks we’ve had sightings of numerous species including orange-tip, small white, green-veined white, dingy skipper and green hairstreak.

The green hairstreak is the only green coloured butterfly that can be found in the UK, although strictly speaking it’s only the underwing that is green. Look out for this butterfly feeding on patches of bilberry.

The beautiful orange tip can still be seen on the wing. The orange tip is considered a sign of spring as it is one of the first species to emerge that doesn’t overwinter as an adult. Females lack the conspicuous orange tips to their wings so are often mistaken for other white butterfly species such as the small white.

Orange tip - Chris Calow

The small white is one of the two species that is often referred to as the ‘cabbage white’, although there are no cabbages for them to eat here.

Small white - Chris Calow

Another species of white butterfly that can currently be seen on the reserve is the green-veined white. This too can be easily mistaken for a female orange tip or a small white. The key giveaway with this species is the distinctive greenish coloured veins on the underwing.

Green-veined white - Lucy Hodson

A species that you couldn’t possible mistake for one of the whites is the dingy skipper. Moth like in appearance and extremely well camouflaged it is certainly harder to spot than any of the whites but it’s well worth searching out because this is a butterfly that is becoming increasingly rare. Keep a look out around patches of bird’s-foot trefoil as this is the larval food plant.  Our Visitor Experience Officer Katy was lucky enough to have one land on her leg recently. The squeal of excitement was a sound that I have not heard before.

Dingy skipper - Jarrod Sneyd

Though it’s not a butterfly I can’t neglect to mention the argent and sable moth. It’s only found at 15 sites in England and we are one of them, with our first sighting of the year taking place this week. It’s a day flying moth so do be on the lookout for it at this time of year, especially around areas of young birch.

Argent and Sable - Mike Pollard

As summer progresses we will have more and more species of butterfly on the wing as well as many more beautiful wildflowers including the greater butterfly orchid so why not pay us a visit and see how many you can spot.

If you visit us between the 6th and 19th of July you’ll be able to take part in our ‘Greater Butterfly Orchid Fortnight’. During these two weeks we will be giving you the chance to learn about the wonderful world of wildflowers and you’ll probably see a butterfly or two as well.

Chris

Comments
  • Great pics. Your 'Small White' is also a Green-veined White :)