Monday, 11 August 2014


This year so far has been amazing for butterflies. I've even seen my first ever clouded yellow! I made the decision to try to document all the different butterflies I'd seen by taking photos of them. I'm doing okay so far, but didn't do so well with the clouded yellow (more later!) and have yet to see another comma (usually they're pretty common here) to take a photo of it.

It's turned me into a bit of a butterfly geek. I can ID them, and in some cases, sex them. If you're interested in spotting butterflies in the south west, the best places I have been so far are Wych Lodge, near Staple Fitzpane (near Taunton) and Ham Hill (near Yeovil). Wayford Woods (near Chard) is also pretty good.

So, photos!

This is a brimstone butterfly. Photo taken at Wych Lodge. I just saw a flash of yellow and had to chase it for a bit before it would land. Apparently they're more attracted to purple/blue flowers. Their wings look just like leaves.

To the right we have a five-spot burnet. Which is actually a moth, not a butterfly, but they're so pretty I'm including it anyway. This photo was taken at Ham Hill. I'm fairly confident this is a five-spot and not a six-spot...

A common blue (male). I think this is my favourite butterfly - they're so small and really pretty. The males are this lovely blue colour and although the females are brown, they're just as nice, often having blue on them as well as the orange patches at the edges of their wings. Also, the undersides of the wings on these guys are super pretty too. Pic taken at Ham Hill.

Now I'm hoping this is an Essex skipper and not a small skipper. I've had a couple butterfly geeks agree with me on the ID. Super similar to the small skipper, but these guys have a splodge of black right at the tips of their antennae. Ham Hill, I think.

This is a male silver-washed fritilary. Pic taken at Wych Lodge. Really easy to spot as they're quite big and bright orange. Females aren't quite as bright and have slightly different markings on their wings - more spotty, less stripy. Both have a silvery sheen on the underwings.

On the right - a female gatekeeper. Females are prettier than the males, I think. They're more orange - males have brown marks on their wings (I think they're scent marks?) I don't actually remember where I took this photo. Possibly Wayford Woods. I also have a pic of a male gatekeeper with extra wing spots. So that's exciting.

A green veined white. Common as anything. This photo shows off the green veins on the underwing nicely.

This is a male large skipper, on the right. Bigger than the small skipper and they have patterned wings, rather than plain. Also, their antennae are hooked. This photo was taken at Powerstock, Dorset.

Female small white. Again, super common and responsible for eating my cauliflowers. (Also known as cabbage whites). Females are better looking than the males as they have these nice black wing spots. This one was trapped in our conservatory, so I took her photo before sticking her back outside to have another munch on my caulis.

A marbled white. Another fave. Look how pretty!! More common in the south west, apparently, so we're lucky. This one was taken at Ham Hill.

A boring old meadow brown. These are really common, along with the whites and the gatekeepers and ringlets. Brown mostly, but with orange patches on their wings. Females are prettier because they have a touch more orange on them. I do like this photo though. Taken in Ham Hill.

On the right is a peacock butterfly. Big and blousy, you can't miss them! Unmistakable. Very pretty, but quite dull (and very well camouflaged) when they have their wings shut. I think males and females are pretty similar, the females aren't quite as bright. There have been an absolute ton of these around this year. Pic taken at Wych Lodge.

A red admiral on the left. Also pretty unmistakable. Nice looking butterflies, fairly common. This one decided to wander around next to me on the ground for a bit, so I took about a hundred photos of it at Wych Lodge.

A ringlet. Plain brown butterflies, but they do have nice eye spots on the wings. Very common, not very exciting but I think they have a nice shape. I don't remember where I took this photo as I have a lot of ringlet pics!

Not sure if you can see this little one! A small skipper. Tiny and super cute. These little dudes have really sweet faces too.

Small tortoiseshell on the right. Very recognisable, garden butterflies. Will probably be all over your buddleia, next to the peacocks. Pretty. I have no idea how to sex these.

A speckled wood. Again, I can't sex these, they all look the same to me. Brown and spotty. Lots around this year - I see them all the time when walking the dog. This photo was actually taken in Boscastle, in Cornwall.

On the right is a male large white (these are also called cabbage whites, same as the small whites, and they look very similar!) Not a great photo and he's a bit scraggy too!

And... just to prove I did see a clouded yellow...

I chased this bloody butterfly all over the field, even ran through a bog, but couldn't get close to it. In the end I randomly fired the camera while it was flying away and managed to at least get the butterfly in the shot! The day after, I saw one sitting in a hedge just where I walk the dog - it even let me pick it up and then just sat calmly on the leaf again - and I didn't have my camera with me. Grr.

So, that's all I've seen so far. I'd like to get a better clouded yellow photo. I'd like to get a comma pic. And I'd love to see small coppers, any of the hairstreaks, pearl-bordered fritilary and painted lady. We'll see...

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