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The Friends of Allestree Park

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The Butterflies of Allestree Park

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ll Grange

 

small tort

 

 

 

 


Butterflies are the most popular of insects, though many other kinds of insects are equally beautiful but suffer from a ‘bad press’.

In Allestree Park you can find several butterfly species, some more abundant than others. All are dependent on suitable habitats being present, differing according to species and ranging from woodland and scrub to grassland. It is important that these are managed sensitively. Butterflies generally have suffered a noticeable loss in numbers over the last fifty years or so due to building development, intensive farming and pesticides. Climate change has caused a few species to increase several others to decline.

The Higher-Level Stewardship scheme for the Park (instigated in 2015) is designed to enhance some areas of the Park for wildlife, including butterflies. A ‘butterfly bank’, not far from the main car park, was installed in 2017. This will provide a south-facing slope where butterflies can bask during warm weather, together with various nectar-rich flowers for feeding.

Over the past four years during the spring and summer four people have been conducting a weekly survey of the butterflies to be seen in two areas of the Park, under the aegis of Ken Orpe, the Derbyshire Butterfly Recorder of Butterfly Conservation. This provides a continuous valuable record of how the butterflies are faring and how the various changes to the Park’s management are affecting them.

Most of the butterfly species which have  been seen in Allestree Park are illustrated here. The photographs were taken either in the Park or near to it.

 

small skipper 1

Small Skipper

Habitat: Flowery grassland

Caterpillar foodplant: Various grasses

On the wing: July and August

thymelicus sylvestris allestree park g2 2016 08 03 6

Small Skipper

... showing the more clearly the tips of the antennae - only half black,

contrasting with the very similar Essex Skipper, illustrated below.

thymelicus lineola allestree park g4 2016 08 03 1

Essex Skipper

Habitat: Flowery grassland

Caterpillar foodplant: Various grasses

On the wing: July and August

This species was first acknowledged as British, in Essex, in 1890. Since then it has been found in many parts of England.

It is very likely that it has been with us long before and that it was being confused with the Small Skipper

- very easy to do so!

thymelicus lineola allestree park g4 2016 08 03 2

Essex Skipper

...showing more clearly the tips of the antennae

- here black on both upper and under-surfaces.

 

 

 

ochlodes sylvanus fem allestree n woodlands school 2014 06 19

Large Skipper

Habitat: Flowery grassland, woodland edges, woodland rides

Caterpillar foodplant: Cock'sfoot Grass

On the wing: June and July

gonepteryx rhamni allestree park big wood at sk 34009 40765 2010.04.08 4

 

Brimstone (male)

Habitat: Woodland edges and scrub

Caterpillar foodplant: Common Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn

On the wing: March to June

gonepteryx rhamni allestree park big wood at sk 34009 40765 2010.04.08 3 Brimstone (female)
pieris brassicae  allestree elm grove 2013.08.15 - 1a

Large White (female)

Habitat: Gardens, open grassland, hedgerows

Caterpillar foodplant: Cabbages and related crops, garden nasturtiums, Wild Mignonette

On the wing: May - June; August - September

 

Together with the Small White, this is the only British butterfly

that is regarded as a pest.

The caterpillars can cause great damage to cabbages and

other brassicas.

The male butterfly lacks the black spots on the fore-wings,

but still has the black wing-tips.

pieris rapae allestree park 2016 04 21

Small White

Habitat:

Caterpillar foodplant: Cabbages and related crops, garden naturtiums, wild mignonette

On the wing: May and June; July to September

This species causes far less damage to brassica crops than the Large White.

It is less heavily marked than the Large white, the spring brood (as here) having paler grey spots and wing tips than the summer brood.

pieris napi alestree park field g1 2016 05 16 3

Green-veined White


Habitat: Sunny borders of woods, woodland rides,

marshy areas

Caterpillar food plant: Garlic Mustard also known

as Jack-by-the -Hedge, Lady's Smock -also known as Cuckoo Flower, Great Bitter Cress, some other wild members of the Cruciferae (mustard family)

On the wing: May and June; August and September

anthocharis cardamines - 1 shaw wood nr oakerthorpe 2013.05.04 -5

Orange Tip (male)

Habitat: Roadside verges, woodland edges, damp grasslands

Caterpillar foodplant: Lady's Smock also known as Cuckoo flower; Garlic Mustard also known as Jack-by-the-Hedge, great bitter Cress

On the wing: May to early July

Only the male has the distinctive orange tips.

anthocharis cardamines fem allestree park field g1 2016 05 16 1

Orange Tip (female) - on flowers of Lady's smock.

Both sexes have the intricate green mossy pattern on the undersides of the hind wings.

The female lacks the orange tips.

 

 

satyrium w-album allestree park nr. main car park 2006.07.16

White letter Hairstreak

Habitat: Woodland edges and roadsides where elms are present.

Caterpillar foodplant: English Elm, Wych Elm, Small-leaved Elm.

On the wing: June to August

This is the scarcest of the butterflies known to breed in Allestree Park. In fact it is now nationally scarce due to the decline in elms as a result of Dutch elm disease (which appeared in Britain in the 1960s).

As part of a project organised by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the Friends of Allestree Park and the Appletree Hundred Group of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust planted a number of disease-resitant elms in the woods near the main car park (which already had some dying elms) in 2014.

purple hairstreak prees heath - derek brownlee  

Purple Hairstreak

Habitat: Woodland containing oak trees

Caterpillar foodplant: Foliage of oak trees, both native and non-native.

On the wing: Late June to September

Photographed by Derek Brownlee in Shropshire

This species is very difficult to photograph as it spends much of its time flying around the tops of oak trees, hence no photo taken in Allestree Park.

purple hairstreak u.s. steve plant
 

Purple Hairstreak (underside)

Photographed by Steve Plant in Allestree (not the Park). 

lycaena phlaeas ups allestree park field near a6 2003.08.03  

Small Copper

Habitat: Flowery grassland, woodland edges and rides.

Caterpillar foodplant: Docks and Sheep's Sorrel.

On the wing: May and June; July and August.

polyommatus icarus m ups friargate sta 2003.07.24 - 1  

Common Blue (male)

Habitat: Flowery grassland, woodland edges and rides, roadside verges.

Caterpillar foodplant: Bird'sfoot Trefoil and other related plants of the clover family, including Red Clover.

On the wing: May and June; July to September.

polyommatus icarus 2mgp2259  

Common Blue (female)

The female has varying amounts of blueon the predominantly brown uppersides of the wings. Some are almost completely brown.

 

polyommatus icarus allestree n woodlands school 2014 08 12 2  

 

 

Common Blue (female - underside)

Both sexes have similar array of 'eye spots' and chevrons on the underside of the hindwings.

The ground colour is pale brown in the female, pale blue in the male.

 

 

 

 

celastrina argiolus fem allestree park woodlands field g6 2015 05 30 7  

Holly Blue (female)

Habitat: Woodland, hedgerows, gardens.

Caterpillar foodplant: Holly, ivy, bramble, spindle, dogwood, gorse.

On the wing: April to August.

 

The male is similarly coloured and marked but has a very narrow dark margin to the fore-wing.

celastrina argiolus allestree elm grove 2007.05.05 - 3  

Holly Blue (underside)

 

vanessa atalanta allestree - quarndon fields 2016 09 28  

Red Admiral

Habitat: Gardens, woodland edges, hedgerows, bramble scrub, gardens - especially attracted to buddleia flowers.

Caterpillar foodplant: Stinging Nettle,

Pellitory-of-the-Wall

On the wing: Mainly March to NovemberThis is mainly a migratory species, large numbers arriving in Britain from Southern Europe in June.

A small proportion are able to survive the winter here.

vanessa cardui allestree elm grove 2013.09.07 - 1  

Painted Lady

Habitat: field margins, where there are thistles, hedgerows, bramble scrub, gardens - especially attracted to buddleia flowers.

Caterpillar foodplant: Thistles, Stinging Nettle, Mallows, Viper's Bugloss

On the wing: April to October

 

This is also a migratory species. In some years enormous numbers arrive here from North Africa, mainly in May and June.

It breeds here in the summer but is (normally) unable to survive our winter.

aglais urticae allestree park g4 south 2015 04 14  

Small Tortoiseshell

Habitat: Field margins where nettles are found, bramble scrub, hedgerows, gardens - especially attracted to buddleia flowers

Caterpillar foodplant: Stinging Nettle

On the wing: March to May; July to September

 

This resident butterfly, formerly one of our most common, has suffered a serious decline in recent years. The reason is thought to be an increase in the numbers of a parasitic fly, due to global warming.

There are signs of a recovery, however.

 

nymphalis io allestree park nr hall 2016 04 21 - 1  

Peacock

Habitat: Field margins where nettles are found, bramble scrub, hedgerows, gardens - especially attracted to buddleia flowers

Caterpillar foodplant: Stinging Nettle

On the wing: March to May; July to September

polygonia c-album allestree park nr evergreen hall entrance 2008.09.24 - 3  

Comma

Habitat: Woodland edges, gardens

Caterpillar foodplant: Stinging Nettle, Elm species, Willow species

On the wing: March and April; July to September

polygonia c-album us allestree park nr evergreen hall entrance 2008.09.24 - 1  

Comma (male - underside)

The female has a more brown underside. Both sexes have the white mark which gives this butterfly its name.

 

pararge aegeria allestree park near woodlands lane entrance 2009.04.20 - 1  

Speckled Wood

Habitat: Woodland edge, scrub

Caterpillar foodplant: Various grasses,including Cock'sfoot and Yorkshire Fog

On the wing: March to early October

pyronia tithonus allestree park field n lake 2008.07.24 2  

Gatekeeper (male - showing the 'sex brands' in the centres of each fore-wing).

Habitat: Scrubby grasslands, woodland rides.

Caterpillar foodplant: Various grass species.

On the wing: July and August.

pyronia tithonus allestree n woodlands sch 2014 07 15 - 1  

Gatekeeper (male - underside)

Both sexes have very similar coloration.

maniola jurtina allestree park sw boundary 2006.07.16  

Meadow Brown (female)

Habitat: Grassland - where the grass is of medium height, woodland edges, hedgerows.

Caterpillar foodplant: Various grasses.

On the wing: June to September.

maniola jurtina allestree - quarndon fields 2008.07.28 - 2  

Meadow Brown (female - underside)

This is still probably Britain's commonest butterfly species, in spite of the loss of much suitable grassland.

The female is somwhat more boldly marked than the male. There is, however, much variation in intensity of colour and markings.

aphantopus hyperantus fields n woodlands sch allestree 2008.07.14 - 3  

Ringlet


Habitat: Damp grasslands where there is shelter from 
nearby woodland and scrub, roadside verges with hedgerows.

Caterpillar foodplant: Various grasses.

On the wing: June to August.

aphantopus hyperantus 2mgp0677  

Ringlet (underside)

 

 

 

 

marbled white - andy butler  

Marbled White

Habitat: Grassland with long grass, roadside verges, disused railways

Caterpillar foodplant: Various grasses

On the wing: June to August

Photographed by Andy Butler, Clough Wood, Derbyshire

This butterfly was almost unkown in Derbyshire twenty years ago. since then, aided by climate change,

it has spread up from the south of England into the Midlands and some northern counties. The only records for

Allestree Park were made in 2015 during the butterfly survey mentioned in the introduction.

mating marbled white toton 2016  

Marbled White (mating pair)

 Photographed at Toton Fields Nature Reserve, Derbys./Notts. in 2016, female on left, male on right.

This species is really a member of the brown group of butterflies, not the whites, despite its appearance.

 

All photos by Bill Grange, except where indicated

 

For much more information on British butterflies, there are very informative websites at: UK Butterflies and  Butterfly Conservation

 

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 August 2017 19:00