Wall

Lasiommata megera (59.002)

The delicately patterned light brown undersides of the Wall provide excellent camouflage against stony or sandy surfaces upon which it rests. It has a particular habit of basking on walls, rocks, bare patches of earth, rocks and stones.

During hot sunny weather, the males patrol their territory, flying fast and low over the ground, seeking out unmated females. In cool, dull weather, the males bask in sunny spots, flying up to intercept passing females, or to drive off other males.

In Warwickshire, the Wall is extinct as a breeding species with the last confirmed sighting at Fisher's Mill, Middleton in 2007. The reason for the demise of the Wall in our region and in many other localities across the UK is still unknown. Loss of habitat is certainly a major contributing factor, as is the use of pesticides. However, recent research suggests that climate change may be altering the species breeding cycles which may explain why it still occurs in isolated locations that are generally at a higher altitude.

Habitat Requirements

The Wall requires short grassland where the turf is patchy, broken or stony. Inland, it occurs on rocky outcrops such as Bardon Hill and Warren Hills in Leicestershire and Cuckoo Bank near Chasewater, South Staffordshire usually at a much greater altitude than the surrounding area and normally at to very tops of these hills/outcrops. It was once a widespread species occurring near dunes and coastal habitats such as undercliffs and rocky foreshores as well as disturbed land such as railway embankments and cuttings, disused quarries and derelict land.

Larval Foodplants

The larval foodplants include Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), Wavy Hair-grass (Deschampsia flexuosa), Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus) and Bent sp. (Agrostis spp).

Distribution in Warwickshire

Between 1995 and 1999, the Wall was widespread in the north and east of the county. In 2000, it was recorded at Shipston in the south. To the east, the focus of observations were at Wolfhampcote while in the north of the county, locations at Dosthill and Hartshill provided several records.

From 2001, sightings dropped dramatically with almost all observations being located in the vicinity of grantite quarries near Nuneaton.

Distribution of the Wall 1995-2004 inclusive

1995-2004

Distribution of the Wall 2005-2009 inclusive

2005-2009

Distribution of the Wall 2010-2014 inclusive

2010-2014

Distribution of the Wall 2015-2019 inclusive

2015-2019

Reasons for the Wall's decline and local extinction

There has been a great deal of discussion about the causes behind the decline of the Wall butterfly, not just in Warwickshire but across lowland Britain in areas away from the coastal fringes and high peaks where the species hangs on in cooler local climates. While loss of habitat and use of pesticides have no doubt been devastating for this species, it is also believed that climate change may be the primary cause of this species decline.

It is thought that due to a warmer climate, the Wall attempts to have a third brood in autumn (October/November) but eggs laid at this time do not hatch and grown into mature caterpillars quick enough to pupate and survive the winter. As a result, each year sees fewer and fewer Wall butterflies surving the winter. This phenomenon began in the late 1990's.

If our climate continues to warm, it is possible that the species may bounce back allowing it to produce a third brood earlier in the summer (July/August) allowing offspring of this third generation time to pupate and hibernate, thus surviving the winter and able to breed the following spring.

Timeline of rapid decline

The following timeline illustrates the rapid decine in Wall sightings over a ten year period, leading to its extinction in Warwickshire in 2008. The species has not been seen in Warwickshire since* and is presumed extinct in the County.

*Updated December 2018.

2008
Wall extinct in Warwickshire

By 2008, it seemed that the Wall was all but lost to Warwickshire. No further confirmed sightings have been recorded since 2007.

2007
The last Wall in Warwickshire

A single Wall at Fisher's Mill, Middleton on 18/04/2007 by John Harris - the last confirmed sighting of the species in Warwickshire.

2005
Walls at Nuneaton

A single Wall at Windmill Hill Community Nature Area, Nuneaton and one at Old Quarry Bank, Mancetter Road, Nuneaton.

2004
Walls still widespread between 1995 and 2004

A total of 283 Wall were recorded in the county between 1995 and 2004.

2003
Last at Blast Bank

A single Wall at Windmill Blast Bank, Nuneaton.

2002
Walls in Rugby

Two at Navigation Cutting, Rugby.

2001
Walls at Kingsbury

Two at Kingsbury Colliery Spoilheaps.

2000
Signs of decline

In 2000, the Wall was recorded at Shipston in the south of the county, Wolfhampcote to the east, and in the north, locations at Dosthill and Hartshill provided several records.

1999-1995
Widespread in the north and east

Between 1995 and 1999, the Wall was widespread in the north and east of the county.

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