Recent Sightings 5th August – an update on Painted Ladies - from volunteer Phil.

Anyone reading my article from last month will be interested to know that in the last few days a fresh brood of painted lady butterflies seems to have emerged on the reserve.   This specimen was seen on 5th August on the path between West Mead and Redstart Corner.  

This is a perfect area for painted ladies to lay eggs because there are large patches of thistle, the foodplant for the caterpillars, on either side of the path. Later that day I saw a painted lady on the bank to the right of the path going down to Nettley’s Hide.

It seems likely that these butterflies are a new brood started by the faded adults that we saw towards the end of June which is reasonably consistent with the suggested 5 weeks from egg laying to adult emergence I suggested in my previous article.

So far there is no evidence of an invasion at Pulborough Brooks.  The Sussex Butterfly Conservation Recent Sightings page for the last few days has several records of recently hatched painted ladies but not in huge numbers.   There are however reports in the media of very large numbers seen in Northern England and Scotland so it does seem that 2019 will go down as one of the periodical invasion years, even though most of the butterflies have either passed over or bypassed Sussex.

Happily a few decided to pause their migration here and we can still enjoy these beautifully coloured butterflies, but it remains a mystery as to what happens next.  Will these butterflies move further North to produce a new brood, will they lay eggs here to give a new batch of freshly emerged butterflies in mid to late September, or will they start a southerly journey back towards North Africa to ensure the migratory life cycle continues into 2020?