Peter Martin writes:
The Painted Lady butterfly is a migrant that normally arrives in Britain from North Africa in small numbers most years. Sometimes, the weather and breeding conditions are just right to create a situation in which millions of these butterflies reach our shores.
This happened in 1996, when several million Painted Ladies were recorded in this Country. From reports this year, it looks as if even those numbers could be exceeded!
I first saw 2 Painted Ladies in our front garden on 24th May. Barbara and I went to the New Forest for a holiday three days later and, when we went into the front garden of our hotel, on the edge of Lyndhurst, we saw an amazing sight. Dozens and dozens of Painted Ladies were flying from south to north, all following each other along the edge of the trees that formed the garden boundary.
After mating, the females normally lay their eggs on thistles, but some have been seen laying them on stinging nettles this year. With the numbers seen, 2009 is already classed as a “Painted Lady Year”, but we may be in for an even greater surprise. If the next generation emerge from their chrysalides towards the end of July and during August, there may be even more “home grown” Ladies for us to see.
Picture credit here.