Marsh Fritillary Larvae. Photo: Nigel Spring
2019 was a bumper year for Marsh Fritillaries on our reserve at Alners Gorse with a record number of sightings of the adults and hugely increased numbers of larval webs counted in the Autumn.
The clusters of up to 200 larvae spend the winter months in the leaf litter and emerge on their wispy webs in February and early March to bask in the weak winter sunshine. There has been a notable shortage of sunshine recently but these determined clusters photographed by Nigel Spring on 23/02/2020 were doing their best to bask amongst the oak leaves and their larval food plant, Devil’s-bit Scabious.
Silver-washed Fritillaries. Photo: Caroline Stringer
Caroline takes us back to the halcyon days of Summer with this photo of mating Silver -washed Fritillaries which she came across on 14/07/19 at Alners Gorse.
A large bright butterfly with a graceful flight which is a delight to watch as it swoops and glides along woodland glades ,stopping to feed on brambles and other flowers between May -September in one brood.
Comma. Photo: Dave Law
Red Admiral. Photo: Dave Law
Dave visited Alners Gorse on 05/09/2019 and sent in these lovely photos taken on his visit there. He commented that although the season may be winding down Alners Gorse is still a fantastic place to go for a good variety of butterflies and whilst there he saw immaculate Commas, Green-veined Whites in good numbers as well as Red Admirals, Common Blues , Painted Ladies and Small Tortoiseshells.
Brown Hairstreak. Photo: Mark Pike
Gatekeeper aberration. Photo: Mark Pike
On a rather cloudy morning a visit to Alners Gorse on 08/08/2019, Mark found this superb female Brown Hairstreak which very obligingly was good enough to “display” on his fingertip. Continuing with his search despite the weather about an hour later he found this Gatekeeper aberration.
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We know our Alners Gorse Butterfly Reserve is pretty special, but we didn’t expect this! Continue reading
Clouded Yellow. Photo: David Simmonds
David spotted this Clouded Yellow while at Alner’s Gorse on 1/08/19.
Considering the hot weather we have had this summer, this migrant species do not seem to have been seen as often as you might expect this year.
Brown Hairstreak. Photo: Mark Pike
Holly Blue. Photo: Mark Pike
When Mark visited Alners Gorse on 23/07/19 not only did he find an early Brown Hairstreak but he somehow managed to get it to pose on his finger! Mark, the Butterfly Whisperer! Normally these butterflies are seen up fairly high up in trees and only occasionally on lower vegetation.
The Holly Blue was too shy but posed nicely on a leaf for him to take a photo. This would be one of the recently emerged 2nd generation, and can be seen on the wing into early September.
Brimstone. Photo: Mark Pike
Marsh Fritillary Caterpillars. Photo: Mark Pike
Mark commented that this female Brimstone was so well camouflaged against the leaf she settled on at Alners Gorse when he visited the reserve on 29/07/19.
Not so were the caterpillars of the Marsh Fritillary butterfly which is found at Alners Gorse,. The mite, trombidium breei seen on one of the caterpillars is often found on butterflies and other insects but apparently does them no harm.
Marbled White. Photo: Caroline Stringer
Large Skipper. Photo: Caroline Stringer
Caroline took some arty shots of this Marbled White and Large Skipper whilst at Alners Gorse on 13th July.
There have been good numbers of both these species in Dorset this summer and they can still be found on the wing for a little while yet.