Saturday, 28 March 2020

B is for Butterflies

Please remember! We ask that people do not visit the Reserve particularly if you have to travel. All car parks on Holy Island are closed to visitors until government restrictions are lifted. Many residents on Holy island fall into the vulnerable category. Please adhere to these guidelines for the health and safety of yourself and others during this time.

During spring and summer Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve is awash with wild flowers. Many of these are specialists thriving in the important humid dune slack habitats. These blooms attract an array of butterfly species. Butterflies are vital for the ecosystem providing cross pollination of plants allowing many of our wild flowers to proliferate across the landscape.

Dark Green Fritillaries are very much a Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve speciality along the north east coast. They can be identified by the green hue on the underside of their hindwing and can often be seen on the wing throughout the summer months busily feeding on their favoured food plant of Knapweed and Thistles.
Dark Green Fritillary ©JJD  

Other butterflies are also common such as Common Blue; Small Copper; Wall Brown; Meadow Brown; Ringlet and Small Heath. If you are lucky you may spot the odd Grayling too.

Surveys are carried out every spring and summer using well established transects. This data is then shared with Butterfly Conservation Trust.

Being a coastal site, the Reserve is in a prime location for large influxes of butterflies on migration when the winds turn to the south and east at just the right time. This was the case this past year ,as late June and early July bought a once in a decade invasion of Painted Ladies to our shores.
Painted Ladies on Ragwort in July 2019
These delicate butterflies carry out a multi-generational migration from Africa to the UK every year. Most years small numbers are seen around the Reserve but 2019 produced 10’s of thousands. For a few weeks the the dune system felt like walking through a butterfly farm with swarms exploding off every plant passed. An incredible sight!
Painted Lady ©JJD

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