Andy Martin has not only sent us this photo of a Clouded Yellow helice form at Ulwell (near Swanage), taken on 12 October but also a video of another helice at Southbourne Undercliff in Bournemouth, on 25 October.
— Andy Martin (@Alexanor56) October 25, 2017
The helice form of this butterfly is a pale form of the female, in which the orange ground colour is replaced by grey.
The Clouded Yellow is almost entirely a migrant butterfly to the UK, though it has been found breeding on the Undercliff in Bournemouth in some years.
This was first reported by Michael Skelton in 1998/9, and he made repeated visits to watch the butterfly go through its various stages. He first saw caterpillars in October 1998, and found the last ones in March 1999. He never found a chrysalis, but saw the first adult on 26 March. On 15 April, despite a light covering of snow, he saw a Clouded Yellow “flying strongly”.
Interestingly, Mike records (in our newsletter number 32 from Summer 1999) seeing the butterflies “near the Bistro”, while Andy, our 2017 recorder, also says he saw one “500mtr from the Bistro on the Beach heading towards Boscombe”.
Mike Gibbons, on Twitter on 28 October describes finding “15 Clouded Yellows at Southbourne Underciff, two pairs mating yesterday and one pair today”. Probably not surprising, given the warm temperatures we have enjoyed this autumn, and hopefully we will see the resulting adults next Spring, if the winter is not too cold.
Other sightings have come in from Portland and Weymouth. If you see one – helice or otherwise – please report it via our sightings form.