Tag Archives: Alners gorse

View of an almost perfect Valezina form of a Silver-washed Fritillary on bright yellow Fleabane

Silver-washed Fritillary.Valezina. Photo: Lynda Lambert

Linda says:

I saw this Valezina form of the Silver-washed Fritillary at Alners Gorse on 13/08/2017. A photo of this species was taken on 10/08/2017, also at Alners Gorse and was added to this gallery recently. As you can see, my photo shows this butterfly has very little damage, just a small nip off of the bottom of it’s hind -wings, whereas Elaine Conlon’s image taken 3 days earlier showed extensive loss of wings. This shows that there was more than one of these butterflies present at Alners Gorse. Hopefully this gave butterfly enthusiasts a better chance of spotting one.



Brown Hairstreak with open wings, showing bright orange markings

Brown Hairstreak. Photo: Gerry Traves

Gerry and Lyn are members of the Ringwood Natural History Society: the group were shown round  our Alners Gorse Butterfly Reserve by our Reserves Manager, Nigel Spring, on 27/07/2017. They write that they enjoyed the morning very much, and sent us the full list of butterfly and other species they recorded on the visit, which you can see here.

View of a Marsh Fritillary web showing several caterpillars. It is lying at the base of a patch of Devil's-bit Scabious

Marsh Fritillary web. Photo: Lynda Lambert


View of some Devil's-bit Scabious the foodplant of the Marsh Fritillary caterpillar

Devil’s-bit Scabious. Photo: Lynda Lambert

Lynda found this web and two others at Alners Gorse on 13/08/2017, at the base of some Devil’s-bit Scabious, which is the foodplant for the Marsh Fritillary caterpillars.

Sunshine is a prerequisite for the health of the species at the caterpillar stage which explains why some years numbers are better than others even when the site is managed with this fritillary in mind as well as for other species.

Devil’s-bit Scabious is a pretty perennial plant which grows quickly to a height of approximately one metre, flowering from June until October.  It is a good source of nectar and is visited by many  types of insects as well as butterflies. Wild Honeysuckle and Small Scabious are also plants used by the Mrsh Fritillary caterpillars, but  Devil’s-bit  Scabious seems to be the preferred plant  in the UK.


View of a slightly worn Silver-washed Fritillary, Valezina showing upper wings and resting on yellow flowers

Silver-washed Fritillary. Valezina. Photo: Elaine Conlon

Elaine saw this worn Valezina form of the Silver-washed Fritillary at Alners Gorse on 10/08/2017

They are a different form of the female Silver-washed Fritillary and at one time were only found in the south of England. In recent years they appear to be spreading further north, but whether by natural expansion or by deliberate  release of captive- bred butterflies is unclear.


Alners comes up trumps again

A group of people looking up into the trees, with some pointing
Guided walk at Alners Gorse. Photo: Martin Warren.

We have four Butterfly Reserves in Dorset, all of which have their attractions, but Alners gathers the most attention at this time of year because of its Hairstreaks. A guided walk there on 5 August, led by Martin Warren,drew 30 people, and was described as “superb” despite showers.

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view of Brown Hairstreaks nectaring on flowers

Brown Hairstreak. Photo:
James Gould

Brown Hairstreak. Photo: James Gould

James photographed these butterflies at Alners Gorse on  05/08/2017 and says:

A Brown Hairstreak photographed at Alner,s Gorse last week has had a narrow escape. It is a good example of the hairstreak survival strategy at work, ‘the false head illusion’, as described by Adrian Hoskins (Butterflies of the World): ‘A variation of the decoy theme is employed by Hairstreak butterflies. Distinctive patterns of bright stripes direct the eyes of birds towards a target area on their hindwings i.e. eye-marks and antenna-like tails (big photo). The ‘false head’ fools the bird into aiming at the rear of the butterfly (smaller photo).







view of Male and female Silver-washed fritillaries with wings open , courting

Silver-washed Fritillary. Photo: James Gould

James photographed these at the end of July at Alners Gorse and says

I followed this courting couple of Silver-washed Fritillary for 15 minutes as they chased each other, occasionally settling in the grass or on the ground. Eventually they lost interest and flew off in different directions. Even though the specimens are looking a little worn and faded, the photo gives a good comparison of male and female Silver-washed Fritillary. The male (below) being a brighter orange colour with four bold sex brands along the veins of the forewings