view of a male and female Clouded Yellow trying unsuccessfully to mate

Clouded Yellows. Photo: Shona Refoy

view of a female Clouded Yellow in mating refusal position

Clouded Yellow. Photo: Shona Refoy

Shona came across these Clouded Yellows at Ballard Down on 2/11/18 which is rather late in the season to see this species in this location. However this year seems to have been an exceptional year for late butterfly sightings in general.

Shona tells us that this pair did not mate, despite the males’s frequent attempts, and you can see in the above photo, the female is presenting in the mating refusal position. Maybe as it was so late in the year she decided it was not worth the effort as it would be highly unlikely the caterpillars would survive and find enough to eat before they would need to overwinter as pupae. As this is a migrant species, the pupae rarely succeed in overwintering due to damp and frosts, though on the Undercliff at Southbourne they are occasionally successful.

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