Invasion!

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Painted Lady Butterfly

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Taking advantage of the flowering ragwort

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1, 2, 3…look carefully….how many?

Thursday 1st August comments: Over the last five days the Isle of May has experienced an invasion only rarely seen before. At the weekend the island welcomed thousands of Painted Lady butterfly’s with an estimate of 10,000 individuals present on Sunday with several present over the following days. Staggering numbers for an insect let alone a butterfly!

This invasion was not just confined to the Isle of May as the entire east coast of the United Kingdom were reporting vast numbers and its just so impressive to witness. But why were we getting so many and where are they coming from?

Every year huge numbers leave tropical Africa and head north reaching as far north as the Arctic Circle (over 7,000 miles…for an insect!) However once every decade or so, numbers are great (the last big invasion occurred in 2009) as a result of good breeding conditions on their migration route, hence the bigger than normal numbers. The natural world can be mindblowing at times and this is just another fine example, so the next time you see one, just appreciate how far those little wings have travelled from!

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