Phenology: early record of Speckled Wood butterfly

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Nature’s calender seems to be all over the place at the moment here in sunny Cornwall. Yesterday we had our first butterfly of the year in our Falmouth garden. What was so surprising was that it was a Speckled Wood, not a butterfly that overwinters as an adult.

An early date for this species would be late March so to have one in mid January only goes to emphasise what a mild winter Cornwall is experiencing.

More information can be seen on the complete life cycle of the Speckled Wood species page.

This butterfly is common throughout much of southern UK, in recent years it has been expanding its range further north.

The species is unique amongst British butterflies in that it can overwinter as either a caterpillar (larva) or chrysalis (pupa).

Update : Butterfly Conservation’s survey manager Richard Fox was quick to be in touch for more details of the incredibly early Speckled Wood seen in our Falmouth garden on 13 January. Richard then helpfully did some research of early records to find this butterfly was the earliest Speckled Wood recorded since they began reporting first sightings on Butterfly Conservation’s website in 2002. He was also aware of a single earlier record of a Speckled Wood seen at Antony Estate in Cornwall on 4 January 1989.

For anyone interested in butterflies there are regional groups of Butterfly Conservation who welcome new members to help with monitoring and conservation work.

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