Tag Archives: Alners gorse

View of a black cluster of butterfly larvae amongst dead oak leaves.

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.

Mating Silver washed Fritillaries

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.

View of orange butterfly on yellow flower

Comma. Photo: Dave Law

View of red,black and white butterfly on blue flower

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 and Orange butterfly on fingertip

Brown Hairstreak. Photo: Mark Pike

View of Orange and Brown butterfly with some unusual white markings

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.

Yollowand green butterfly with black markings resting on leaves with wings almost closed

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 and Orange Hairstreak  with tails on hind-wings

Brown Hairstreak. Photo: Mark Pike

pale blue butterfly with tiny black spots on both fore and hind underwings

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.

green underwings of a butterfly camouflaged against the leaf it is resting on

Brimstone. Photo: Mark Pike

seven caterpillars with beige hairsand  black faces on the outside of  their web

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.

Black and White butterfly nectaring on a bramble flower

Marbled White. Photo: Caroline Stringer

Golden butterfly with dark markings nectaring on a thistle

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.