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Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire - Branch Logo featuring the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly.Butterfly Conservation.

Butterfly migration is biggest for years

by Louise Keeling (Senior Publicity Officer)
Date: 26/05/2009

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Millions of Painted Lady butterflies are now arriving in Britain, after an amazing 1000 mile migration from North Africa.

The charity Butterfly Conservation has been receiving reports since the start of the Bank Holiday weekend of sightings of large numbers of these butterflies. People throughout Britain have seen these fast-flying butterflies moving overhead for hours on end, setting the scene for what could be one of the largest Painted Lady migrations in decades.

The first indication of their arrival in Britain came last Thursday (May 21) when Butterfly Conservation members first reported seeing large numbers off Portland Bill in Dorset. Since then, thousands have been seen flying north at locations across southern England, from Cornwall to East Anglia.

The fine Bank Holiday weekend weather brought hundreds of new sightings from as far north as Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. There were even sightings of hundreds in central London. An estimated 18,000 were spotted flying past Scolts Head Island on the Norfolk coast yesterday and were passing at 50 a minute over a 400m front today.

Scientists have been predicting an unusually large migration since late winter. The butterflies originate from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, where heavy winter rains allowed good germination of the caterpillar food-plants. A Spanish researcher, Constanti Stefanescu had reported seeing hundreds of thousands emerging in mid February and beginning their long flight north. They were seen in large numbers in Spain during April and a few weeks later in France.

Butterfly Conservation is asking for the public's help to track the migration by recording any sightings at www.butterfly-conservation.org/migrantwatch

Richard Fox, Surveys Manager at Butterfly Conservation, said: "There are literally millions of Painted Lady butterflies arriving right across Britain.

This is a spectacular phenomenon and we are asking people to send us their sightings via our website".

For further information contact

Louise Keeling
Senior Publicity Officer
01929 406 005
07515 889 225
lkeeling@butterfly-conservation.org

Richard Fox
Surveys Manager
07711 657 322

Photo captions
Painted Lady - Jim Asher (paintedlady01.jpg)
Painted Lady - Jim Asher (paintedlady02.jpg)
Painted Lady - Steven Cheshire (paintedlady03.jpg)

1. Butterfly Conservation is the largest insect conservation charity in Europe with nearly 14,000 members in the UK. Its aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. It runs conservation programmes for over 60 threatened species of butterfly and moth, organises national butterfly recording and monitoring schemes, and manages over 30 nature reserves. Further information can be found at www.butterfly-conservation.org

2. Butterflies are important indicators of the health of an environment. In profusion, they show us that nature is in healthy balance.

If you have any questions or require more information about this press release, please contact Louise Keeling (Senior Publicity Officer) by email.

About Our Press Releases

Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire regularly issue press releases on issues in relation to butterfly and moth conservation in the Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull area alongside occasional press releases covering national stories from Butterfly Conservation's head office.

If you require further information about a specific press release, please contact the specific press release author.

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Notes For Editors
Butterfly Conservation is the largest conservation charity of its type in Europe with over 13,000 members in the UK. Its aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. It runs conservation programmes on over 60 threatened species of butterfly and moth, organises national butterfly recording and monitoring schemes, and manages over 30 nature reserves.

Further information at: www.butterfly-conservation.org