Butterflies and Moths of the Yorkshire Dales National Park July 2014

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a training course on Butterflies and Moths. I was to be staying at Malham Tarn, a centre run by Field Studies Council. The trainer was David Brown, who is the County Recorder for butterflies and moths in Warickshire. David was extremely knowledgeable, knowing exactly where to take us to see the butterflies and also, knowing every moth that had been caught in the moth trap each morning. Each day started with the 5 moth traps, distributed in various habitats around the centre grounds. 

I have never done a moth trap before and was stunned by the amount of moths and how striking a lot of them were. We totalled 65 different moth species over the 4 days of trapping, all were released carefully into the vegetation so as not to fly straight into the beaks of local birdlife! My personal favourite, was the Antler Moth. They were in the traps every morning, but I never got fed up of them.

For the rest of the day, once the moths had been logged, we went on field trips to places David knew would (hopefully) be full of butterflies. We had a few target species, Scotch Argus, which are at their southern limit here in Yorkshire, High Brown and Silver Washed Fritillaries and possibly the Northern Brown Argus. I have never seen High Brown Fritillary, Scotch Argus or Northern Brown Argus, so I am crossing my fingers for all 4!

The first site we visit is Arnside Knott, a known haunt of the Scotch Argus, the weather is a bit overcast and looking frankly, not great for butterflies. We climb up the side of a hill, keeping our eyes peeled all the way. On the way up, we see, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Green Veined White, not bad!

Almost at the top of the hill, in a small clearing, the sun came out and so did the Scotch Argus! We see around 6 in all

Target species for day 2, were the fritillaries, we had the potential of seeing 3 species of fritillary at the same site, Grassington Wood. This was however, David told us, very unusual indeed. On entering the clearing, the sun again came out! We saw all 3 fritillaries! High Brown Fritillary, another first for me! I didn’t manage a photo of these though, battery died.

Day three was Meathop Moss, target species, the Manchester Treble Bar Moth. This was our first fail, no Treble Bar, but we did see a fantastic Emperor Moth Caterpillar, so not a total disaster!

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Comment by Joanna Glyde on August 8, 2014 at 10:00

And don't forget this is your last weekend to take part in the Big Butterfly Count!


Comment by Neil Hulme on August 8, 2014 at 12:37

Hi Jan,

Sounds like you had a great time up there. Arnside Knott is a truly magical place and a real Mecca for butterfly enthusiasts. I try to visit at least once every other year.

Closer to home there is more good news about the spread of some of our rarer butterfly species across Sussex. This can be attributed, at least in part, to some of the fantastic habitat management work going on all along the South Downs, as part of the Nature Improvement Area project.

The Silver-spotted Skipper has undergone a population explosion at Cissbury Ring, having only been discovered there last summer. I've also found a few at Long Furlong, the first records of it here since 1939.

The SDNPA rangers are to be applauded for all that is being achieved at a large number of locations between Winchester and Eastbourne. It's really heartening to see the fortunes of some species improving after so many decades of decline.

BWs, Neil

Comment by Jan Knowlson on August 8, 2014 at 13:11

Hi Neil, it is a fantastic place yes, I'm definitely going back for more!

Thank you for your kind comments on all our hard work too, it is great to have the input from yourself and the other Butterfly Conservation bods. Always providing really helpful advice and support, long may it continue! Great news for the Silver-Spotted Skipper, the South Downs are able to provide habitat for such a great range of species.

Well Bottom is coming along great, lots of butterflies have appeared there this year, fantastic to see it change too.


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