Species of the Month - July 2012


Hipparchia semele

The Grayling appears in July but can be hard to see, as it always rests with its wings closed and is often camouflaged against coastal rocks as in the picture below.  It rests facing into the sun so as not to cast a shadow.  It will lower the forewing so as to hide the eye-spot if it wants to be even more invisible, but will raise it and show the eye-spot if it wants to scare you off!

Hipparchia semele

This butterfly is most likely to be seen on the coast, but it can occur inland especially in sheltered rocky sites with dry sparsely-vegetated ground.  It is declining in many areas and is a UK BAP priority species.

Hipparchia semele   Hipparchia semele

The females lay their eggs on or near tufts of grass, which the caterpillars feed on until the approach of winter, when they hibernate deep down in the grass and resume feeding the following spring.

.Hipparchia semele

Like other butterflies, the Grayling has to feed on flower nectar from time to time, and that is when it is most visible.

Hipparchia semele on Cakile maritima

Help us learn more about the distribution and preferred habitats of this butterfly in our area.  Please send in your sightings using the form below.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Number seen 
Flowers visited 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g habitat, behaviour 


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
G Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

7 July: David Jardine saw one at the quarry just south of Culipool

19 July: Sallie saw several at Sanna, Ardnamurchan

24 July: Sallie saw one in Ballachulish Quarry

28 July: Sallie saw lots at Tentsmuir, Fife

31 July: Sallie saw another (or the same one!) in Ballachulish Quarry

2 Aug: Jan saw one in Ballachulish Quarry

Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here is the list of species we've had so far:

Jun 2012 - Greater and Lesser Butterfly Orchids
May 2012 - Small Copper
Apr 2012 - Green Tiger Beetle
Mar 2012 - March Moth
Feb 2012 - Barren Strawberry
Jan 2012 - Brambling
Dec 2011 - Red Squirrel
Nov 2011 - Hazel Gloves
Oct 2011 - Small Tortoiseshell
Sep 2011 - Fly Agaric
Aug 2011 - Grass of Parnassus
Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird
May 2011 - Green Hairstreak
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

Mar 2011 - Frogspawn

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated