Species of the Month - October 2011
At this time of year Small Tortoiseshells are looking for somewhere to hibernate and may come in through the window or you may find them in an outbuilding. You may even find them still feeding up on various flowers to see them through the winter.
If one of these butterflies hibernates in an unheated outbuilding it is best to let it remain there, but if it tries to hibernate in the house, it should be moved to an unheated shed or garage or a sheltered tree hole or similar. If it's in a shed, make sure it has some way to get out in the Spring.
This butterfly has declined nationally in recent years. Locally, numbers were very low in the early part of 2010 but the second generation recovered to some extent. 2011 has been a poor year locally for most butterflies so it's likely that there will be fewer Small Tortoiseshells than usual overwintering with us. Any records are therefore of great interest.
One way to
help this butterfly is to let a patch of nettles grow in your garden.
If you have an adult butterfly overwintering with you it may lay eggs on
these nettles in the Spring and you can watch the caterpillars as they
grow. Another way to help them is to have late-blooming flowers in
send in your sightings using the form below.
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Once again Tina is first with a sighting. On Oct 1 she had one fly out of the garage and saw another on an apple tree. Clumps of caterpillars were seen in her neighbour's garden earlier this year.
On 24 Oct one came in my window. I released it into the unheated part of the building where one successfully hibernated last year - Carl