Delight at butterfly finds in new sites

Pimpinel Pug Barry Prater
Pimpinel Pug Barry Prater

It’s been a remarkable year for discoveries of both butterflies and moths across the Borders according to local enthusiast Barry Prater.

Barry, from Eyemouth, is the Butterfly Conservation Society’s moth recorder for the Borders. He said: “Each autumn I look back on the butterfly and moth season and say ‘how can next year be as good as this one?’ and yet every year there are fresh delights and discoveries made in our corner of Scotland - both for butterflies and moths.

“At last there are some Berwickshire records of the Green Hairstreak butterfly, an often elusive species, which was discovered by David Thompkins and Ewan Munro in May just over the border from East Lothian, near Soutra and at Peat Law. Further searches revealed new colonies on the East Lothian side too, so exciting for a species which until recently had very few Borders records, but since 2009 has been located at a growing number of sites.

Ian Cowe from Chirnside added: “It seems that 2014 was quite a season for the Small Blue in east Berwickshire with four new sites found through May and June. I say it seems, because it is likely that these colonisers have been finding success a little earlier, possibly colonising in smaller numbers as early as 2012.

“Finding the butterflies on new sites is one thing, but proof of breeding is better. Long searches were made of all the sites and evidence was found of both larvae and egg stages. Quite extraordinary to see with my own eyes a colonisation event as vivid as this has been. So as you can imagine a large amount of data have been gathered and collated.

As the number of active moth recorders across the Borders gradually grows, so do findings of scarce or unexpected species. Support from expert lepidopterists has boosted people’s skills and confidence and this is no more evident than with the notoriously tricky family of pug moths.

Barry Prater said: “A Pimpinel Pug came to a light trap on the Berwickshire coast in early July, followed by four more at a separate nearby site a couple of weeks later. An extraordinary find as this species is not known north of Yorkshire. Just as surprising was the find of another individual on the Fife coast.”

Other interesting finds included the first Borders record of the Small Engrailed species which was light-trapped at Paxton House by Barry Prater in late May as part of a very successful family butterfly and event there.

The Scallop Shell was rediscovered by Malcolm Lindsay in June at Gordon Moss, where the last Borders specimen was found back in 1955.