The Mouth – Bournemouth – Poole – Christchurch

July Species of the Month: Small Tortoiseshell butterfly – Aglais urticae

Ecology and Conservation: The small tortoiseshell butterfly is one of our most familiar butterflies and is commonly seen in gardens and urban areas. Although this is a widespread species found all over Britain it has recently shown signs of a worrying decline in population especially in the south of the country. This could be as a result of a number of factors but one of those thought to be contributing is an increase in the population of a parasitic fly (Sturmia bella) due to global warming, this fly preys on the small tortoiseshell caterpillar.

The caterpillars feed on nettles located in a sunny spot. The adult butterfly can be found nectaring on a variety of flowers including brambles, thistles and dandelions.

Identification: The small tortoiseshell butterfly is instantly recognisable to most people with its striking bright orange and black wings. It also has a ring of blue crescents around the wing edges. The underside of the wing is dark grey and brown, used for camouflage.

Records: If you have seen a small tortoiseshell in your garden or local park/nature reserves in Bournemouth then please let us know.

Please email Heather Dixon: heatherdixon@bnss.org.uk

(Or online for those of you who have joined Living Record – if you are interested in wildlife recording contact Heather for details of how to join Living Record.)

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly Aglais urticae

Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae Photo: butterfly-conservation.org

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