Subject: What is this Moth or Butterfly
Location: United Kingdom
July 23, 2016 11:49 am
I took this today in Oxfordshire, UK and wanted to know what it was, thanks for any help in advance.
This is a very exciting posting for us. We have identified your butterfly as a Large Tortoiseshell, Nymphalis polychloros. According to UK Butterflies: “In Victorian times the Large Tortoiseshell was considered widespread and common in woodland in southern England. However, this beautiful insect has since suffered a severe decline and there have been less than 150 records since 1951. This butterfly, whose numbers were always known to fluctuate, is generally considered to be extinct in the British Isles, with any sightings considered to be migrants from the continent or accidental or deliberate releases of captive-bred stock. Several causes of its decline have been suggested – including climate change, parasitism, and the effect of Dutch Elm disease on one of its primary foodplants. The hope, of course, is that this butterfly is able to once again colonise our islands. Although previously found in many parts of England, Wales and Scotland, the greatest concentrations were in the midlands, south and east of England. This species has not been recorded from Ireland. Recent sightings have come from the south coast, in particular from South Devon, South Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex.”
Correction: Small Tortoiseshell
We just received a comment indicating that this is actually a Small Tortoiseshell, Aglais urticae, not a Large Tortoiseshell. According to UK Butterflies: “The Small Tortoiseshell is one of our most-familiar butterflies, appearing in gardens throughout the British Isles. Unfortunately, this butterfly has suffered a worrying decline, especially in the south, over the last few years. This butterfly has always fluctuated in numbers, but the cause of a recent decline is not yet known, although various theories have been proposed.”