Painted Lady Butterflies in Wigton

Painted Lady © Tristan Reid

There has been a big influx of Painted Lady butterflies into the Wigton area in the past few days. I managed to photograph this individual with my phone this morning along a path in the town.

Painted Lady © Tristan Reid

It is fantastic to see so many of these migrant butterflies around at the moment. I even saw one yesterday whilst out running up High Pike. No picture as it was just a flight view!

Views from High Pike © Tristan Reid

UK Butterflies comments that the Painted Lady butterfly is a migrant to our shores and, in some years, the migration can be spectacular. The most-recent spectacle, in 2009, is considered to be one of the greatest migrations ever, with sightings from all over the British Isles that are definitely on a par with previous Painted Lady years.

This species originates from north Africa, and it has been suggested that the urge to migrate is triggered when an individual encounters a certain density of its own kind within a given area. This theory makes perfect sense, since this species can occur in high densities that result in foodplants being stripped bare on occasion with many larvae perishing as a result.

Unfortunately, this species is unable to survive our winter in any stage. This is a real shame, for not only does this species often arrive in large numbers, but is a welcome sight as it nectars in gardens throughout the British Isles in late summer. This butterfly has a strong flight and can be found anywhere in the British Isles, including Orkney and Shetland. An interesting fact is that this butterfly is the only butterfly species ever to have been recorded from Iceland.

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