Wildlife enthusiasts are being urged to keep a close watch on butterflies over the next few weeks, especially to spot a seasonal migrant breed called the painted lady.
The painted lady is a long-distance migrant, which causes the most spectacular butterfly migrations observed in Britain and Ireland. Each year, it spreads northwards from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia, reaching Britain and Ireland where it breeds, the young heading southwards again. The last mass immigration occurred during 2009 and this year swarms have been seen heading north through Europe.
Butterfly Conservation is running a project to map the arrival, spread and departure of migrant insects online and you can log any sightings you make at https://butterfly-conservation.org/our-work/recording-and-monitoring/migrant-watch.
Last week (Friday July 12th) two individuals were spotted in St Kilda, one on Boreray, proving the insect can easily reach the Western Isles. Durness, Kirkwall in Orkney and Lerwick in Shetland have also recorded sightings over the past few weeks.
The picture shows a painted lady butterfly feeding on garden flowers and is by Matt Berry.