Now that we are fully into spring and the sun is shining, the butterflies have started to appear back in our gardens and wild areas. There are just five species of butterfly commonly seen in Shetland.
The Large White (Pieris brassicae) is our only resident butterfly and has a bit of a bad rep with the veg growers due to its caterpillar’s choice of lunch! The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) butterflies are all migrant species, the Red Admiral and Painted Lady are regular visitors to flowers in our gardens, with the Small Tortoiseshell being rarer.
Over recent years there has been an increase in the number of sightings of the Peacock (Aglais io) butterfly, another migrant species which is now recorded in Shetland every summer potentially due to the effects of climate change.
There are however 15 species detailed in the Shetland Butterfly ID Leaflet although many of them are very rare, you may just be lucky enough to spot one!
As all but one of the butterflies seen in Shetland are migrants, they can appear each year in very variable numbers, so we need your help to gather accurate records of the butterflies in our islands, both resident and visitors.
Sightings records can be emailed to SBRC with photos if you have them (this is important for evidencing the rarer species). If you have more time, we would love it if you could carry out a short survey in your garden or on a set walking route once a week, or as often as you are able.