It’s May, and spring is well under way and with it butterflies start taking to the air. There are a couple of nature reserves within a few miles of where I live that are good butterfly habitats. Below are butterflies I’ve seen recently on these reserves, starting with the Grizzled Skipper butterfly which is one of the first small butterflies to emerge each year.
It’s a very small butterfly , with an average forewing diameter of 12 millimeters, and closely resembles moths in appearance. Males and females can be differentiated by the shape of their wings: males have slightly more angular wings, while females have a more rounded wing shape.
The Grizzled Skipper has shown a worrying decline in numbers over the past few decades. In Cambridgeshire were only 5 surviving colonies known about in 2003, I’m lucky enough to live a couple of miles away from one of these colonies.
The Grizzled Skipper is becoming rarer in the UK
Another tiny butterfly I’ve seen recently is the Green Hairstreak. This butterfly is widespread throughout Britain and Ireland but is not a garden visitor and due to it’s size it’s hard to spot. I found the butterfly below clinging to Cowslip flowers – probably taking shelter on a cool spring day.
Green Hairstreak, the only truly green butterfly in the UK.
The common Orange Tip butterfly can be seen this time of year. The male has the orange tip while the female is just black and white in colour.
The orange tip can be seen on the wings, indicating that this is a male butterfly
Another common butterfly and one of the most colourful is the Peacock.
The colourful Peacock butterfly
Two more early butterflies – the Tortoiseshell and Brimstone.
Tortoiseshell and Brimstome