Rare butterfly ends 50-year exile in style
Every now and again, something causes a stir among birdwatchers, botanists or, as in this case, butterfly enthusiasts.
This summer Holland and Belgium have experienced large numbers of a butterfly called the scarce or yellowlegged tortoiseshell. More than 250 have been recorded in the past month after none were seen for more than 50 years.
The butterfly is found in Eastern Europe and appears to be spreading west.
It differs from the similarly rare large tortoiseshell by minor differences in the margins on the border of the fore wings and the underside of the hind-wings. However, the main difference is the pale legs of the scarce tortoiseshell. The food-plant is not rare – scarce tortoiseshell caterpillars feed on a range of willow species.
In the UK, there have been sightings in East Anglia and at Sandwich and Oare Marshes.