The search for the Silver-spotted Skipper has been on for nearly a week now. I saw one on Newtimber Hill last Tuesday but could not get a picture of it. Sunday I went back and had a possible sighting of one but again no picture. Monday Dave went for a look and reported around fifty seen and today, Tuesday, we went back and found two hundred plus.
Newtimber has an amazing range of wild flowers and grasses and there were thousands of butterflies on the wing. Admittedly most of them were well worn Meadow Browns but we also saw Chalkhill Blues, probably in the hundreds, Commas, Peacock, Small Copper, Tortoiseshell, Ringlets, Marbled White, Small Heath, and a large variety of Moths.
I also caught a brief flash of yellow as a butterfly disappeared behind a bush. I only need a Clouded Yellow to catch Dave up on the number of species seen this year. Its not a race but it still had me sprinting up a forty five degree slope to get a better view, much to Dave's amusement, when I had to tell him that it was only a Brimstone.
|Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata|
|Mating pair Chalkhill Blues|
|Female Chalkhill blue with at least fifteen larvae of the Trombidium breei parasitic mites|
We have seen infestations by the Trombidium breei larvae on a range of different butterfly species although it is probably most evident on the Marbled Whites. The mites live on the blood of the butterfly but they do not appear to cause the butterfly any significant problems. This makes sense, after all there is no point in killing off your host and food supply. However, most of the infested butterflies carry two or three of the mites, fifteen looks a bit excessive and I wonder how this female will cope. If you want more information click on the link below.
Conradt, L., Corbet, S.A., Roper, T.J., and Bedworth, E.J. (2002), Parasitism by the mite Trombidium breei on four U.K. butterfly species. Ecological Entomology, 27:651-659. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2311.2002.00461.x
|Moth - but I have not had time to identify it yet.|
Now identified as Pyrausta nigrata. See message from Tom below.
I just have to keep my fingers crossed on the arrival of the Clouded Yellows from across the channel.