October Meeting Report

Michael Fuller, Wiltshire’s Butterfly Recorder, spoke about the changing fortunes of Wiltshire butterflies.  Wiltshire has a significant proportion of the UK’s total.

A large audience heard our speaker inform us that of 18,000 butterfly species worldwide, Wiltshire has just 45 but this represents a significant proportion of the UK’s total of 61. Our county is blessed with a variety of habitat – woodland, wetland and, most importantly and thanks largely to the MOD, wide expanses of chalk grassland. 22 species are considered common and widespread in the county and climate change is likely to be responsible for a gradual northward shift of several species, so good news for butterfly spotters in Scotland and the north.

Butterfly Conservation is a national organisation whose Wiltshire branch is some 900 strong. As elsewhere, local members record sightings of butterfly species and forward them to Mike who updates his database accordingly.

Mike showed us lovely photographs of individual butterfly species and shared some of his detailed knowledge of their particular characteristics in terms of their preferred habitat and time of year when they are active. He noted that the Painted Lady had been especially plentiful this year – 200 had even been recorded in the remote island of St Kilda. The Small Tortoiseshell is in decline though numbers of any species can vary hugely from year to year. Mike is the author of a major book entitled Butterflies in Wiltshire. With 58 pages in full colour, Butterfly Walks in Wiltshire, is recommended for anyone in pursuit of butterflies locally.