This year will probably go down as the worst summer for butterflies for a very long time.Up until recently it was rare to see any; in recent days numbers have increased a little but the variety is still poor. It’s therefore strange to record a new species for the garden. The meadow brown is not a rare butterfly, far from it, but it does like long meadows or at least large open spaces with plenty of grass available. This butterfly is one of the more frequent in the local area but never before has it ventured into the garden. Whether this is a result of poor food sources for the adults in the wider area is unclear but today’s was one of a handful that have turned up this year. The caterpillars feed on grass but it is likely that the butterflies will disappear to better egg-laying grounds rather than choose the albeit rather unkempt lawn.
Meanwhile the more brightly coloured species like small tortoiseshell, red admiral and peacock have been virtually absent. Whether the early broods failed in the poor weather or whether they are simply not travelling north this year is unclear. By August these should be a common sight but an occasional glimpse of a lone butterfly seems to be the limit. If we manage a late settled spell of warm weather that may help but as things stand next year isn’t looking too good either due to a lack of wintering adults, caterpillars or pupa depending on the species.