At the end of April I talked about identifying white butterflies and gave you some easy tips and tricks to help you on your way. One of the white butterflies that you will see at the moment is the Orange-tip. In Scotland this species has experienced a series of dramatic range changes. At one time it was widespread but then suffered huge declines in the 1970’s. At this point it was restricted mainly to southern Scotland and Aberdeenshire. By the 1980’s the Orange-tip had a revival and since then has been doing well and has reclaimed most of its former range.
Butterfly Conservation Scotland has been monitoring these changes by carrying out a survey every 10 years since 1997. It is now 2017 and they are asking people to again record their Orange-tip sightings. The adults have one brood a year which emerge in mid-April and they are on the wing until early June so now is the perfect time to see them.
The males have very distinctive orange-tips and although the females are less distinctive, they can still be easily identified by the green camouflage-like mottling on the underside of their wings. The butterflies like damp grassland habitats and can be found along riverbanks, in your garden, in farmland and parks. Their favourite plants are cuckoo flower (aka Lady’s smock) and Garlic mustard (aka Jack-by-the-hedge).
By participating in this survey you could help reveal new areas the species has colonised and help uncover the reason for the Orange-tips expansion. One explanation is the the effects of climate change are helping the species expand successfully throughout Scotland. Your records can be sent to www.butterfly-conservation.org/scottishorangetip or posted to Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Balallan House, 24 Allan Park, Stirling, FK8 2QG. You will need to provide your name, date, number seen, place seen/nearest town village and a grid reference or postcode.
Laura Preston, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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