Today was once again fantastic weather for butterflies, unfortunately today they didn’t really fancy coming out to play.
Matthew Oates joined us up at Collard today, to give his expert opinion on how things are looking. Amazingly we didn’t see a single Large Blue today. Visitors reported only 4 individual sightings, 3 of which were on the upper slopes of the site.
It’s still very early to draw broad conclusions about the season, but essentially there’s some good news and some bad news.
The bad news:
- There’s enough thyme out on the site now that we would expect the numbers of blue to be significantly higher. It’s not a good sign that we’re at least 5 days in with such poor numbers.
- In all previous years, the populations would have exploded by now given the conditions across the site. It now seems unlikely that we’ll have a big explosion in their populations.
- General butterfly populations seem fairly low across the site in comparison with previous years. This is a fairly good indicator that conditions on the site are generally poor (as a result of weather strangeness).
The good news:
- There’s a big difference in thyme emergence across different areas of the site. Staggered stages are ideal for LBs as it means later individuals will still have a nectar source and place to lay.
- There may be more individuals than we have yet realised, however their behavior may have made them hard to spot. For example, LBs may require that adult populations reach a certain density before they become truly active, a rule that holds true for many other species.
- These conditions aren’t specific to Collard, other LB sites’ vegetation seems to be at roughly the same stage.
- There may still be time for numbers to improve, however unlikely it seems.
- Collard Hill is still a lovely place to visit!
So, there is still a little time for things to pick up at Collard but I really really have to emphasize that the likelihood of visitors seeing Large Blues at the present time seems to be fairly poor. There is absolutely no guarantee.
If you’re planning a trip specifically just to see the Large Blue, I’d hold off to see if things pick up. If you think you’ll enjoy everything else the site has to offer then I’d encourage you to come along!
Once again, this is still early days, and trying to predict the behavior of these little beasties is a very very imprecise science.
Speaking of all the other things the site has to offer, today we found a couple of mothy treasures.
The caterpillar of the now rare Small Eggar Moth:
And caterpillars of a moth species whose name completely escapes me. Matthew mentioned it but even he wasn’t 100% on it, so 10/10 for anyone who identifies these in the comments!
Thanks for reading everyone! Obviously I’m keeping the blog updated daily so remember to keep checking back for updates – if population levels drastically increase the blog will be updated as a matter of urgency!
Jono, The Large Blue Ranger