Tag Archives: Small Tortoiseshell

View of orange butterfly with black and yellow markings resting on the trunk of a tree.

Small Tortoiseshell. Photo: Shona Refoy.

Shona’s butterfly winter famine ended last Friday 06/03/2020.  The wind finally dropped, the sun shone for a while and then she saw her first butterfly of the year – a male Brimstone which flew past her at speed while she was eating lunch in her Corfe Mullen garden so no chance of a photo possible.  However, later that day she went to Kingston Lacy where saw this Small Tortoiseshell basking on a Lime tree, not far from where she had seen two Small Tortoiseshells last Autumn.  Also in the kitchen garden at Kingston Lacy she saw a rather tatty Red Admiral nectaring on a Hyacinth – she tells us that she was very happy to see some butterflies for the first time in nearly four months.

View of dark and light brown butterfly with wings closed hibernating in a barn.

Small Tortoiseshell. Photo: Emma-Kate Perry

Emma recently sent us this photo with the following query:

So sorry to trouble you, hope you don’t mind, wasn’t sure where to ask the question. I found this little chap on 10/11/2019 under a stair in a storage barn in Lytchett Matravers the other day. I wondered if you could tell me what it is?  Is there anything we should /not do ? Just hoping everyone leaves him in peace. 

We are always very happy to try to answer your queries/questions whenever possible and one of our BC Supporters who deals with some of the queries sent to us wrote to Emma as follows – the advice given is particularly relevant for everyone at this time of the year:

It’s a Small Tortoiseshell hibernating. If the storage barn is unheated, it is already in an ideal place to sleep until spring. There is plenty of information on the web if you Google butterfly in your house. If it is in a heated place, it really needs moving to somewhere cool and dark. Small Tortoiseshell are having a thin time at the moment, so I hope it makes it through to breed in the spring.

View of two orange coloured butterflies on Buddleia

Small Tortoiseshell. Photo: Dave Law

Dave sent in this photo showing what is an increasingly rare sight of 2 Small Tortoiseshell together on the same plant. Photo taken on 18/08/2019 in his garden near Duncliffe Wood after he returned from holiday. He added that there seemed to have been a mini explosion with at least 15 different Tortoiseshells feeding on various buddleia’s around the garden as well as Peacocks, Painted Lady and Whites. Like stepping back in time to his childhood.

underwing phooto of a small Tortoiseshell  , black with a  pinky grey cross band

Small Tortoiseshell. Photo: Dave Law

On 14/07/19 in his garden near Shaftesbury Dave tells us:

This was one of two Small Tortoiseshells egg laying on the nettle patch in the garden . The nettles are cut back from mid June to encourage the fresh growth that the females require . Also Commas and Red Admirals using the same nettle bed.

Whilst suitable flowers for nectaring butterflies are of course really necessary, plants in the garden for the caterpillars of butterflies and moths are of paramount  importance, but so often not included.

Orange butterfly with blak and pale markings on stony ground

Small Tortoiseshell. Photo: George McCabe

Apologies for the size of this photo, but George explains:

Spotted this Small Tortoiseshell sunning itself on the road tarmac near Bincombe, Weymouth. It soon flew off into the ploughed field with crops just showing next to the road, and laid there quite happily; l had to take the picture from a distance as l could not get over the fence. The reason l have sent you this picture rather than the better one I’ve taken this yea,r is that it shows how much white is on the wings – never seen that – and how fresh it looks.

This is the first Small Tortoiseshell photo/record we’ve had sent in since February – anybody else seen one?

view of a Small Tortoiseshell nectaring on lavender

Small Tortoiseshell. Photo: Paul Davidson

If ever we needed a photo to remind us of Summer, today is that day. Freezing cold, and with a real threat of snow, Paul’s beautiful photo of a Small Tortoiseshell which he spotted in Frampton on 15/07/18, ticks all the boxes.