Tag Archives: migration

Lots of Painted Ladies heading our way?

Painted Lady butterfly with its proboscis into one of the flowers of a head of purple chive flowers
Painted Lady on Chive. Photo: Lyn Pullen

It looks possible that we may be having a very large number of Painted Lady butterflies heading our way. Butterfly Conservation reports:

Scientists have been tracking the butterfly from Morocco, where it spends the winter before travelling north through Europe – arriving here by flying from Southern France.  Sources in Spain say Painted Ladies are having a good year there – the best since 2009. Egg counts are high and the butterflies that develop from these eggs will soon be heading towards Britain.  With a bit of luck and a strong south westerly weather front we may be in for a treat by the end of this month! Overall there are lots of reports coming from across southern Europe so with increasing numbers the butterflies could be here by June.

Our last good year was 2009. Lyn Pullen remembers:

It was 25th of May. I saw one Painted Lady in the garden, then another, then another….  it seemed that everywhere I looked in the garden, there was a Painted Lady nectaring on something:

Two Painted Ladies on white sweet rocket flowers

Painted Lady on Sweet Rocket (Hesperis Matronalis – not the herb). Photo: Lyn Pullen

Painted Lady on a big globular head of purple allium flowers

Painted lady on an allium. Photo: Lyn Pullen

Painted Lady on a small bright pink scabious-type flower

Painted Lady on Knautia Macedonica. Photo: Lyn Pullen

Painted Lady butterfly on a bright pink geranium flower

Painted Lady on hardy geranium. Photo: Lyn Pullen

Painted Lady on a pale blue delphinium spike of flowers

Painted Lady on Delphinium. Photo: Lyn Pullen

I suppose if you have just arrived here after a long flap from Europe, you must be hungry, and our garden is only about 4 miles inland. I’ve never seen any butterfly on a delphinium flower before, but I am careful to grow mainly single-flowered varieties, as the doubles often do not produce nectar, or are too tightly packed with petals for the insects to reach the nectar.

I do remember the huge influx in the 1990s – we visited a field in north Dorset somewhere, which was full of flowering thistles, and the whole field was shimmering with Painted Ladies flapping their wings – magic!