Thanks to all members who turned out on a very bad weather day (Storm Dennis) for our AGM – we had over 70 people packed into Puddletown Village Hall! Read on to find out more and for a link to the Records Officer’s Report.
It was very encouraging for the committee to see such a good turnout and thanks to members generosity it was a financial success for us too: a total of £483.47 was raised made up of £67 for book sales, £122.83 for teas, £160.05 from the raffle, two donations totalling £45.00 and £88.59 taken by the sales stall. As the only expenses are the costs of the hire of the hall and the sales stock the net result will be a very welcome surplus available for use by the Dorset Branch for the benefit of our butterflies.
Various Agenda items were dealt with during the meeting and Chair, Nigel Spring, also consulted the members present as to whether or not it would be acceptable for us to make a charge for the guided walks we organise each year as we need to start increasing our income to balance the possible lack of government grants in the future. Following some discussion it was agreed by members that we should in future ask for a donation for these walks.
After the tea break Martin Warren, a former Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation gave a fascinating talk titled Amazing Butterflies – New Discoveries That Will Astonish You and a few of the points he told us about are as follows:
- Recent research into lepidoptera has shown that moths go ever further back in time that we thought, with research now suggesting they existed 300 million years ago, even before flowering plants. Butterflies came into being 100 million years ago, so they would have been flying with the dinosaurs!
- How do butterflies find a mate? Unlike birds, where the females select the males, in butterflies it is generally the other way round. Male butterflies transfer not just sperm but also nutrients to the female, so while a male is depleted by the mating, the female gains; it has been found the Green-veined White female can mate up to six times, gaining nutrients every time.
- It is not true that Monarchs are the longest travellers in the butterfly world, as researchers are now able to tell, via isotopes, where the caterpillars fed, which has shown Painted Ladies to sometimes start from well south of the Sahara. They breed south of the Sahara in January/February, reach the Mediterranean in March/April, and then the UK in May or June, with some possibly going further north still. In the UK they may fit in one or two generations, then they head south again, at very high altitudes, getting back to Africa in Sep/Oct. A question from the audience about how high-altitude butterflies are identified brought the response that radar can measure wing-beat frequency, which is a factor in the identification.
- Butterflies have many predators, particularly parasitoid wasps, which prey on the caterpillar stage. He also introduced us to tiny parasitoids, which are flying insects 0.3mm long which lay into the eggs; these tiny insects have been seen hitching a lift on female butterflies, which presumably is a way of them finding the eggs.
- A butterfly’s genes can be affected by the viruses they suffer, the (few) surviving individuals of a virus developing a degree of immunity to it, which is passed on in their genes.
Unfortunately, our Records Officer, Bill Shreeves, was unable to be with us to give his report on how butterflies fared in 2019. This will be covered in detail at our four area meetings (see the Events page) and will be the subject of another newsletter in due course. In the meantime however a copy of the report can be viewed here:
(Our thanks to Lyn Pullen for compiling this News item)