A couple of months ago, I mentioned the Big Butterfly Count and the hope that people might see Painted Lady butterflies.
For the first time since 2014, when I started taking part in this survey, one of my counts included a Painted Lady. I was thrilled to see it as it was the first one that I have seen in Uckfield for years. I wasn’t the only one – results maps showed that Uckfield counts included approximately 17 of this species compared to 6 last year.
In late spring and through the summer, Painted Ladies take a number of generations to migrate from Northern Africa to Britain. The last big year for them was 2009. My notes for the 24th May said “we saw some painted lady butterflies drifting across the garden – about eight … on iris, valerian and white pyracantha flowers.” This is just a few days before one of the authors of “The Butterflies of Sussex” reported seeing more than a thousand pass in an hour at a site near East Hoathly.
As the colder weather of Autumn closes in, they will be heading back to North Africa. Until then, you have a good chance of seeing them spread out on a wall or path, soaking up the morning sunshine, soaking up the sunshine or on garden flowers such as verbena bonariensis.