Category Archives: Science & Research


Paul has sent us this remarkable video clip showing a Painted Lady Butterfly emerging from the chrysalis with the following comments:

My partner is a primary school teacher and the school had some of those butterfly kits where the caterpillars live in a pot and feed on nutrient in the bottom of the pot.  As most of the children are not currently in school we thought it would be a good idea to do a ‘time lapse’ of one of the painted lady butterflies emerging from the chrysalis to show to the children.

The video is made up of around 11 to 12 photos a minute converted to video, compressing about 45 minutes elapsed time into just over a minute. I used a Raspberry Pi microcomputer with a camera module and wrote some software to take photos every 5 seconds or so.

Hope you enjoy it -the video lasts for just over a minute but be patient as it takes about 10 seconds to start.

ID Day a sell-out

A number of people seated, some being helped by people leaning over their shoulders
People at the identification day. Photo: Georgie Laing

We hold an annual training course in butterfly identification, which particularly looks at the can-be-hard-to-tell apart families, like the whites or the blues. This year’s took place on 27 May in Cerne Abbas and was, as usual, a sell-out, with 23 people attending.

The day, run by volunteers of the Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation, looks not just at identification, but also how to survey and record butterflies.

In the morning, attendees learnt the techniques of butterfly identification. In the afternoon, when the sun fortunately came out, they went out to practice their new knowledge in the butterfly-rich location of the Cerne Giant. There was great excitement when, as well as adult butterflies of various species, a Marsh Fritillary chysalis was spotted.

Our thanks to James Gould (who said he enjoyed the day, especially the cakes!) for the following photos.

Marsh Fritillary butterfly with open wings

Marsh Fritillary. Photo: James Gould.

Chunky crysalis, cream with yellow and black markings, held by silk onto a leaf

Marsh Fritillary chrysalis. Photo: James Gould.


How are Dorset’s butterflies doing?

Distribution map: Small Copper
Distribution map: Small Copper

In order to help butterflies, we need to know about them first. If you haven’t spotted our Distribution Atlas pages yet, do go and have a look at them; they can be accessed via our ‘Recording‘ page.

Our Records Officer, Bill Shreeves, has done a magnificent job taking both a long-term and short-term view of our records from 1970 to 2014, showing how the various species have fared in Dorset. Each species has a distribution map of sightings between 2010 and 2014, followed by information showing population trends.

This is still a work in progress. We will be adding Dorset flight-time charts soon, and Bill is working on further ways of illustrating trends, and hopefully we may be able to crunch the numbers to achieve some abundance data, too.