Conservation charity appeals for help tracking the Orange-tip butterfly throughout Argyll
A WILDLIFE charity is asking for the public to help track one of Scotland’s most distinctive spring butterflies – the Orange-tip.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the first nationwide survey of this species and Butterfly Conservation Scotland is marking this by asking anybody who sees one of these iconic butterflies to let them know by visiting www.butterfly- conservation.org/scottishorangetip
The Orange-tip is one of the few butterfly species that has been increasing in numbers over recent years, bucking the trend found in the 2015 ‘State of UK Butterflies’ report, that almost three quarters of UK species had declined in the past 40 years.
This increase is due in part to their recent spread into Scotland, moving to more areas of the Highlands and other rural locations.
The Orange-tips have been found to be declining more rapidly in rural areas and so town and city sightings of the species would be particularly useful.
The male butterfly has a very distinctive appearance, giving the species its name, with its white wings with the orange tips.
Females do not have these tips, but along with their male counterparts, they do have green mottled colouration on the undersides of the wings.
Urban Butterfly Project officer Anthony McCluskey said: ‘It’s a real joy to see Orange-tips flying in so many places in the spring time. They’re only on the wing for about six weeks in May and June, so we are asking the public to keep an eye out for them now and to let us know if they see any.’
In Scotland, Orange-tips mostly lay their eggs on two flower species. In damper places they choose Cuckoo-flower, otherwise known as Lady’s Smock, a common sight along roadsides, but in drier areas the caterpillars will feed upon garlic mustard.
The Orange-tip survey forms part of the Urban Butterfly Project, a three-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage.
The Orange-tip butterfly can now be more regularly seen on the West Coast.