Recent sightings in Sussex
Butterflies in July
July is the time of plenty in the butterfly world. Despite the raft of first sightings towards the end of June, butterfly numbers have been pretty subdued. This will change in July if the weather picks up and we should see larger numbers of the summer butterflies.
The first Purple Emperor and Purple Hairstreaks are already in the tree tops . It won't be long before we see the Chalk Hill Blue on the South Downs and colonies of Gatekeepers dancing about our hedgerows and clearings. Those who climb Windover Hill might get to see the Grayling. Towards the end of the month we will be looking with interest to see if the Silver Spotted Skipper has continued its expansion West.
Wednesday 27 July
Now here's an interesting report sent in by Tim Lincoln via Facebook:
"My friends' daughter found this forewing in a Brighton pub garden on Sunday - it appears to be possibly from a male Purple Emperor. I went on the PE walk at Woods Mill last week and learned from Michael Blencowe that there are no known colonies in Brighton.. the pub was The Martha Gunn on Upper Lewes Rd and the Lewes/Bear Rd cemeteries / Woodvale Crematorium complex are just a couple of hundred yards away, with plenty of suitable habitat. I'll try to go and look for displaying males at the earliest opportunity. I guess it could have fallen from a car after a butterfly strike elsewhere or even be from an old mounted specimen, but neither seems very likely. Confirmation of ID would be appreciated! Afraid I couldn't retain the wing as little Myla who found it wanted to keep it in an empty pop bottle!"
It is indeed a Purple Emperor wing. The nearest known Emperors to Brighton are north of the South Downs at Ashcombe Bottom / Plumpton /Lewes. But the butterfly is spreading. Has little Myla found evidence that the Emperor has reached Brighton?! (Michael Blencowe)