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What To Look Out For - August 2018

  • Mon 30th Jul, 2018

Non-native plants often get a justified bad rap because many of them can damage our native flora. Buddleia however brings such a glorious display of colour and valuable nectar source that it is rarely considered as a major pest. It was first recorded in the UK in Merionethshire Wales in 1922, it has now become very common in many parts of the UK.

Comma on Buddleia © Richard BainesComma on Buddleia © Richard Baines

August is the best month to look out for this shrub as it attracts large numbers of insects especially butterflies of the genus Vanessa, including Red Admiral, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Painted Lady. Keep your eyes peeled for Comma butterflies, in flight their colour can be mistaken for the commoner Small Tortoiseshell but the orange is covers a greater extent of their wings and is more vibrant than a Tortoiseshell. When Commas are at rest the wavy edge to the wings can be seen and on the underwing look out for the tiny ‘comma’ mark.

Comma © Dan LombardComma © Dan Lombard

Late July this year has seen big numbers of our white butterflies using Buddleia. I counted over 30 on a plant recently. There are three common species to look out for in August; Large White, Small White and Green-veined White.

Four-banded Longhorn © Richard BainesFour-banded Longhorn © Richard Baines

Another popular flower for insects and these larger butterflies is Hemp Agrimony, look out for its pale pink-white flowers growing along woodland rides such as those in the Great Yorkshire Forest. This is also a great flower to seek out Longhorn beetles such as the Four-banded Longhorn. This spectacular group of insects number over 20,000 worldwide with around 60 species in the UK. Their long antennae are used to smell and locate a mate.

Rare and Scarce Wildlife to Look Out For

The recent warm summer has seen a surge in rare insect sightings as many species shift northwards from the continent. A recent colonist in our area is the Small Red-eyed Damselfly. It was first seen in the UK in 1999 but there are far fewer found in cooler summers so this is the year to seek one out! Look out for their delicate black and blue abdomen and their characteristic red eye. They favour fresh water often still or very slow moving in ditches or ponds crucially where there is floating vegetation with plants such as Hornwort. The Yorkshire Dragonfly Group is a great web site for information and be sure to report your sightings if you fine one of these beautiful insects.

Small Red-eyed Damslefly © John HarwoodSmall Red-eyed Damslefly © John Harwood

Looking closely at butterflies on Buddleia can bring a rare reward. On the 25th August 2006 at Flamborough, the late Martin Garner and I caught sight of a larger butterfly flying across my garden. It rested on a wooden post and that’s when I realised it was a rare Camberwell Beauty! I was so excited I nearly forgot to take a photo, I managed to capture two images before it flew away never to be seen again. August is the best month to look out for these spectacular continental butterflies. Their strong flight helps them make it across the North Sea. One was even seen flying past the Yorkshire Bell RSPB cruise from Bridlington a few years ago.

Camberwell Beauty © Richard BainesCamberwell Beauty © Richard Baines

Richard Baines

Yorkshire Coast Nature