In a once in a decade phenomenon, numbers of painted lady butterflies in the UK have reached record numbers as tens of thousands of these insects arrive in the UK to breed.
Whilst painted ladies are a regular sight across the UK during the summer months, around every ten years or so there is a sudden boom in numbers, known as a ‘painted lady summer’ . The last major event in 2008 saw numbers peak at 11 million butterflies, and 2019 looks set to be another record.
Painted lady in the undergrowth
Painted lady among garden flowers
Close up of a painted lady
Painted ladies migrate from northern Africa and the Mediterranean, arriving on our shores to find a mate and seek out thistles, the plants on which they prefer to lay their eggs.
Painted lady on a thistle
A painted lady caterpillar munching through leaves
It is thought that an abundance of food and favourable winds across Europe earlier in the year have given the butterflies a helping hand on their epic migration. These tiny, fragile creatures are truly remarkable, capable of flying up to 100 miles per day at speeds of up to 30mph!
By the time they reach the UK however the journey has taken it’s toll on many of the painted ladies, who are looking far from their best. Their colours are muted and wings tattered from their exhausting journey as seen in this individual below.
A faded painted lady basking on the ground
Have you seen any painted ladies in your area? Remember to log your sightings with the Big Butterfly Count before 11th August!
All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2019 ©
If you like what you see, you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram (@greyfeatherphotography) to see my latest photographs. Hit the little ‘follow’ button on the bottom to subscribe to my blog. Thanks for reading! 🙂