Tag Archives: Aglais urticae

Moths and Butterflies Return

Winter has been very long and drawn out, but at last the weather seems to be improving and very gradually warming up. Late last night I was delighted to find two spring moths on a wall by a window. The first is the old reliable still lacking a common name, Diurnea fagella:

Slightly more impressive than this drab but variable moth was the stockier, and more handsomely marked Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi):

   This medium-sized (small medium) moth had a small chunk taken out of its left forewing, which was very possibly due to a nip from a bird’s beak.  The recent more consistent temperatures have caused spring flowers to bloom in a big way, and the annual mass flowering of dandelions is now beginning. Dandelions are extremely important for pollinators, and many other insects, as are the Lesser Celandine flowers. You can see one here being attended to by a Honey Bee (Apis mellifera).

   However, today I saw something which really lifted my spirits, my first butterfly of the year, a Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae):

And I even made a video about it, and it’s not as bad as it first seems:


First Butterfly 2014

Yesterday I was surprised to see a butterfly just out of hibernation, resting on the threshold of the Church of the Holy Redeemer on the Mainstreet in Bray.

The Small Tortoiseshell on the church stone.
The Small Tortoiseshell on the church stone.

It had clearly fallen out from under the arch, temperatures having risen above 10 degrees Celsius for most of the day, encouraging it to wake up. Small Tortoiseshells are excellent hibernators and are also usually the last butterflies in the Wicklow sky before winter sets in. They are also often the first to appear in spring, although Orange-tip butterflies are the kings of spring.