A good year for butterflies? It’s worth a little flutter

A continental swallowtail butterfly
A continental swallowtail butterfly
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NEXT YEAR could be an exciting one for butterflies if exotic species which appeared in the UK in 2014 are able to survive the winter here, say conservationists.

Species such as the continental swallowtail, the scarce tortoiseshell and the large tortoiseshell were all seen in Britain in 2014 following an unprecedented series of immigration and emergence of exotic butterflies.

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation raised the possibility that some of these butterflies may be able to successfully overwinter in the UK and emerge again in 2015.

This year saw the offspring of continental swallowtail butterflies, which had arrived in 2013 in the largest numbers since 1945, emerging in late spring as adults along the south coast from Suffolk to Dorset.

If the species manages to overwinter and emerge again next spring it would suggest it is attempting to colonise southern England, Butterfly Conservation said.

In an even more surprising development, the scarce tortoiseshell – which as its name suggests is extremely rare – appeared in the UK for the first time since 1953. Dr Tom Brereton, Butterfly Conservation head of monitoring, said: “The emergence and immigration of continental swallowtails and scarce tortoiseshells has made 2014 a truly remarkable butterfly year and with a bit of luck, 2015 could shape up to be even more memorable.”