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Welcome to Butterfly Conservation Dorset

Dorset is one of the best areas in the UK for butterflies and moths, and we are a very active Branch of Butterfly Conservation. This website is designed to help you join our activities and enjoy our butterflies and moths, whether in reality or via the internet.   Find out more

Join the Big Butterfly Count

It's that time of year again, when we ask you to go out and record butterflies somewhere over a 15-minute period.

Logo for the Big Butterfly Count

This is a fantastic citizen science initiative: over 46,000 people took part in 2013, counting 830,000 individual butterflies - let's see if we can better that this year!

You can find full details PLUS a FREE identification chart and a smartphone app at http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/

Purple Hairstreaks

Purple Hairstreak head-on view

Purple Hairstreak. Photo: Malcolm Levitt. You can see a larger version in our Gallery.

These difficult-to-see butterflies are being spotted by lots of you - we've had 21 records sent in by mid July, with 22 butterflies being seen at Piddles Wood, in North Dorset, and 29 at Upton Country Park. They are small butterflies which live in oak trees - usually seen as "silver specks tumbling in the sky above the treetops" [J. Thomas].

Silver-washed Fritillary Courtship

Doug Hounsome has sent us a video of two Silver-washed Fritillaries mating - not something often filmed. Click here to watch it on You Tube.

Swallowtails breeding in Purbeck?

Sightings of fresh continental Swallowtails seem to suggest that they may have bred locally. The latest count suggests five individuals are in the St Alban's Head area. For photos and how the figure of five was arrived at, see Steve Smith's blog.

Are Essex Skippers really starting to decline in Dorset?

Read Bill Shreeves article on our News page.

Swallowtail Update

We have now had six separate reports of Swallowtails on the Purbeck coast, and a photo from George Green - see below.

if you see one, please let us know, with a photo if you can - contact news@dorsetbutterflies.com .

Swallowtail butterfly

Continental Swallowtail. Emmet's Hill 30 June.

Photo: George Green.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

If you think you've had a very small humming bird in your garden, it's probably the Hummingbird Hawk-moth, a fast-moving insect with an incredibly long proboscis to suck up nectar from flowers. Richard Collier manage to get a fantastic shot of one on 2 July - see our Gallery page to admire it.

Clouded Yellow

There is a photo of a Clouded Yellow seen on 30 June at Maiden Castle on our Gallery page.

Another was reported on the same date at Osmington - go to the Sightings page and click on the top of the column "English name" to sort all the entries alphabetically to find it.

Moors Valley Country Park Bioblitz on 24 July - could you join in?

See our News page for details.

Time to start watching Elm trees for White-Letter Hairstreaks

White-letter Hairstreak

White-letter Hairstreak. Photo: Mark Pike

On 21st June the first White Letter Hairstreaks were seen at Alners Gorse & today on 25th June Brian Arnold ‘rediscovered’ the old site in the Wilderness on Purbeck. So now is the time to rediscover more old sites or even uncover new ones to get this species back on the Dorset map!. For the next few weeks the butterflies will gather up in the Elm trees setting up territories & mating. Binoculars would be useful as most can be quite high up in the trees. The Purple Hairsteak, which also uses the tops of trees (though mainly oaks), does not usually emerge this early, so any butterflies up in the tops are highly likely to be White-Letter Hairstreaks. Click here to go to the News item we published earlier this year for full details.

How many White Holes can you fill in 2014?

2014 is our last chance to record butterflies in this five-year recording cycle. We did very well plugging the gaps - 'white holes' - last year, but there is still quite a bit to do. Full details here - and do use the Google Earth facility if you can, it's brilliant!


Full events programme

What does Butterfly Conservation do?

Butterfly Conservation is a national organisation with 32 branches, of which Dorset is one. We also have the headquarters of the national society in Dorset, near Lulworth. The branches and the national organisation work together to help butterflies and moths.

75% of the 60 British butterflies have declined over the last ten years, while 66% of common moths have declined over the last forty. 62 moth species became extinct in the twentieth century. There are successes as well, but these are outnumbered by the failures.

Our efforts include both direct conservation work, including monitoring butterflies and moths, as well as raising awareness of the problems butterflies and moths face and the possible solutions. click here for more detail about our work.

Please come and help us, either directly or by joining the organisation, or both. Our butterflies and moths are beautiful creatures and an essential part of the foodchain: if they are not here for our grandchildren to enjoy, the world will be a sadder place.

If you have any butterfly or moth related news or photos, email: news@dorsetbutterflies.com

JOIN Butterfly Conservation to help us save butterflies, moths and their habitats: Join Now

DONATE to help us with our work to save butterflies and moths - click: Donate

(Donations received via this national Butterfly Conservation site link will come to Dorset Branch)