Glasgow & SW Scotland Butterflies

Glasgow & SW Scotland Branch Website

April 23, 2011

The Return of the Comma

Filed under: Butterflies — Andrew Masterman @ 8:36 am

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation is asking the public to help track the expansion of the Comma butterfly in Scotland.

The Comma butterfly is making a comeback in Scotland. The distinctive orange and brown butterfly has ragged wing edges and a white comma-shaped marking on its underwings, making it easy to identify.

Comma on Buddliea in Motherwell in 2008  Credit: Louise Collins

Comma on Buddliea in Motherwell in 2008 Credit: Louise Collins

It can be found in gardens and woodlands from April through to September, as it hibernates overwinter as an adult butterfly and has two broods a year.

 Commas have been spotted as far north as Aberdeenshire to date and it seems to be spreading faster up the east coast than the west, where it is as far north as Motherwell. Last year, the discovery of Comma caterpillars feeding on elm in Bridge of Allan, confirmed that the Comma is successfully breeding in the central belt.

Sightings can be returned on special Comma postcards or online by going to

Postcard for recording Comma sightings in 2011

Postcard for recording Comma sightings in 2011

Alex Hogg, Community Participation Officer, Butterfly Conservation Scotland
Tel: 01786 447753

Paul Kirkland, Director, Butterfly Conservation Scotland,
Tel: 01786 447753 Mobile: 07770 732825

April 13, 2011

Kentish Glory Surveys at Loch Rannoch in 2012

Filed under: Butterflies — Andrew Masterman @ 3:01 pm
LIGHT TRAPPING 2012: three nights of light trapping for Kentish Glory at Loch Rannoch have been organised for Thur 3 May, Fri 4 May and Sat 5 May with myself and two other volunteers currently attending. As there are a number of sites to check out around Loch Rannoch and some around Loch Tummel, more volunteers, preferably with light traps are required. However, volunteers without light traps can do daytime searches for adult Kentish Glory and egg batches and searches for Netted Mountain Moth and Small Dark Yellow Underwing are alternative daytime activities. If you would like to get involved, please email
Kentish Glory is classified as Nationally Scarce A being only found in Scotland in the Rannoch area, south Aberdeenshire, on Speyside and on the Morayshire coast.
Distribution of Kentish Glory in Scotland.
Distribution of Kentish Glory in Scotland.
Kentish Glory is a  large and spectacular  moth with a very attractive combination of white and chocolate brown markings and the sexes show marked sexual dimorphism with females being much larger than the males
Pair of Kentish Glory.  Credit John Knowler
Pair of Kentish Glory. Credit John Knowler
The larval foodplant of Kentish Glory is Silver Birch although Downy Birch and Alder are sometimes used (Waring et al., 2003). Alder feeding larvae in Britain have been found in the Rannoch area and in Glen Tanar on Deeside (Heath and Emmett, 1983a) although, on the continent, Alder is one of a list of species Kentish Glory larvae may feed on (Pelham-Clinton, 1982; Shaw, 1989). In 1982, Pelham-Clinton stated, “it would be interesting to know whether the Kentish Glory ever fed on Birch at Rannoch” which suggests he was unaware of the 1966 Kentish Glory record by the late Michael Majerus at North Rannoch which is an area of Birch scrub.  Shaw (1989) later reported that he beat two Kentish Glory larvae from Silver Birch about 1 km north-west of Tummel Bridge in July 1988 and some other more recent records are also from areas of birch scrub. So there is now firm evidence that Kentish Glory in the Rannoch area does use Silver Birch and there have been no records of Alder-feeding larvae since 1939 (Pelham-Clinton, 1982). But surveyors who look for Kentish Glory in the Rannoch area should be aware that Alder may be used as a larval foodplant.
The habitat of Kentish Glory is lightly wooded moorland where the birch scrub is no more than 1 - 3m tall as shown in the photograph below:
Kentish Glory habitat at Drumcroy Hill
Kentish Glory habitat at Drumcroy Hill
Butterfly Conservation commissioned survey work in 2010 on rare moths in the Rannoch area  as part of the Moths Count project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and many other partner organisations. The results for Kentish Glory are discussed below.
Three historical sites, Killiekrankie, Tummel Bridge and North Rannoch were visited during the daytime on three occasions (North Rannoch only once) when adults were searched for and also egg batches which are quite conspicuous. Unfortunately, neither adults nor eggs were found at any of these three historical sites.
Kentish Glory eggs on birch.  Credit:  John Knowler
Kentish Glory eggs on birch. Credit: John Knowler
However, on Drumcroy hill a few km west of the Tummel Bridge site and about 1 km away from one of the 1939 larval records from Alder, six large brown moths were seen in flight in the vicinity of NN724618 in which there was a lot of birch scrub 1-3m high. As none were seen at rest, they can only be designated as probable sightings but two were seen fairly close-up and the characteristic prominent white cross-lines were seen. But both Fox Moth and Emperor moth are large brown moths which fly during May in the same habitat as Kentish Glory so caution is appropriate when the moths are only seen in flight.
The map below shows Drumcroy Hill and the probable sightings of Kentish Glory in 2010 together with a shaded area which denotes a large area with patches of birch scrub 1-3 m high. Permission to use light traps has been granted by the landowner so light trapping here is planned during early May 2011. As this is a large area to cover, any volunteers who would like bring along their light traps to help out would be greatly appreciated.
Kentish Glory at Drumcroy Hill
Kentish Glory at Drumcroy Hill
There are also three large areas with suitable habitat around Loch Rannoch which also need to be searched for Kentish Glory but permission for light trapping has only been granted for one of these, the Finnart area at the SW corner of Loch Rannoch. These three other areas are shown on the map below and daytime searches for adults and eggs could be done.
Kentish Glory habitat around Loch Rannoch
Kentish Glory habitat around Loch Rannoch
It is quite possible that Kentish Glory is present in quite a number of 1 km squares around Lochs Rannoch and  Tummel but records are few and far between. As a consequence, there have been concerns that Kentish Glory may be in decline in the Rannoch area but these concerns are probably unfounded.
The flight period of Kentish Glory is late April to mid-May. Kentish Glory is not an easy species to record and the Rannoch area is rather remote so under-recording is the most likely cause of the lack of records. It is very encouraging that some old serendipitous records of Kentish Glory being  found resting on building walls, presumably having been attracted by light overnight, have surfaced in 2011 for new 1 km squares: Killiekrankie NN915600 from 1987; Tummel Bridge NN810598 in 1996 & NN770589 in 2000.  This strongly suggests that Kentish Glory is alive and well in the Rannoch area and is possibly quite widespread. But this hypothesis needs testing via more recording in 2011, preferably using light traps as daytime searches are less efficient. If you would like to get involved in recording Kentish Glory in the Rannoch area in late April/early May 2011, please email  
Accommodation options in the area include budget rooms at the MacDonald Loch Rannoch Hotel from £68 mid-week or there are some wild camping spots around Loch Rannoch or on the south side of Loch Tummel and there is the Kilvrecht Forestry Commission campsite on the south side of Loch Rannoch which has toilets but no showers/hot water for £6 per person per night - no lights in the toilets too so you need a head torch!
Current plans for trapping are Easter Sunday/Monday and the following weekend 30 Apr/ 1May.
Heath, J. and Emmett, A. M. 1983a. The moths and butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol 7(2). Harley Books.
Pelham-Clinton, E. C 1982. The Kentish Glory Moth, Endromis versicolara (L.) at Rannoch. Entomologists Record and Journal of Variation, 94, 215-216.
Shaw, M. R. 1989. The Kentish Glory Moth, Endromis versicolara (L.) (Lep: Endromidae), at Rannoch. Entomologists Record and Journal of Variation, 101, 45-46.
Waring, P.,Townsend, M. and Lewington, R. 2003. Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. British Wildlife Publishing.

March 11, 2011

Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey 2011

Filed under: Butterflies — Andrew Masterman @ 7:20 pm

“We are delighted to inform you that we have decided to continue the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) again in 2011.  Once again this will be a collaborative project with BTO and CEH.   We would like to thank everyone who took part last year and especially the WCBS Champions who helped promote the survey within the Branches.  

The survey had another successful year in 2010 with nearly 700 squares sampled. We hope you will continue to survey the same squares in the same way as last year. Our priority is to re-survey these squares for at least the next 2 years so that we can determine trends in the wider countryside and see whether they differ from transect trends. We also welcome new participants either to help re-survey old squares, or to survey new ones for the first time.  New surveyors will be allocated randomly selected 1-km squares in their Branch area.  The squares need to be surveyed in July and August by two visits at least ten days apart.

Anyone interested in taking part in the WCBS in Glasgow and South West Scotland in the coming season should contact Jo Davis (the Branch Champion) for further information.”

You can read more about WCBS on the UK BMS website.

November 24, 2010

Red alert for Britain’s butterflies

Filed under: Butterflies — Andrew Masterman @ 4:59 pm

A new Red List of British butterflies outlines 23 species which are already extinct here or whose numbers have dropped to such low levels that they are vulnerable to extinction.

 The High Brown Fritillary is one of two species rated as Critically Endangered. This species has been the fastest declining of all British butterflies seeing numbers drop by 85 per cent over a 10-year period.

The research confirms that butterflies are not only a highly threatened group in Britain but that they are faring worse than dragonflies, birds and plants. Twenty three species – 37 per cent of all our native butterflies – are considered to be regionally extinct or threatened. This compares to 21 per cent of dragonflies, 29 per cent of birds and 20 per cent of plants. A further 11 butterfly species are classified as ‘near threatened’ in the new Red List, leaving fewer than half (45 per cent) of Britain’s butterflies considered to be safe at present.

The figures are the result of a major re-assessment of the state of British butterfly populations using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List approach. It is based on data collected by thousands of volunteer recorders coordinated by the charity Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The results are consistent with previous evidence of butterfly trends and confirm that butterflies are a highly threatened group in Britain.

“The new Red List shows that the number of butterflies in need of our help has increased dramatically in the past 10 years,” says Richard Fox from Butterfly Conservation, who is lead author of the study. “We have already seen conservationists bring the Large Blue butterfly back from extinction but there is so much more we need to do to secure the future for our fastest declining species. They are our heritage.”

The new Red List of British butterflies was produced by scientists working for Butterfly Conservation, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.



Threatened British butterflies defined by the new Red List (in order of threat category and then taxonomic order).



Overall assessment

Black-veined White

Aporia crataegi

Regionally Extinct

Large Copper

Lycaena dispar

Regionally Extinct

Mazarine Blue

Polyommatus semi-argus

Regionally Extinct

Large Tortoiseshell

Nymphalis polychloros

Regionally Extinct

Large Blue

Glaucopsyche arion

Critically Endangered

High Brown Fritillary

Argynnis adippe

Critically Endangered

Chequered Skipper

Carterocephalus palaemon


Wood White

Leptidea sinapis


White-letter Hairstreak

Satyrium w-album


Black Hairstreak

Satyrium pruni


Duke of Burgundy

Hamearis lucina


Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Boloria euphrosyne


Glanville Fritillary

Melitaea cinxia


Heath Fritillary

Melitaea athalia


Dingy Skipper

Erynnis tages


Grizzled Skipper

Pyrgus malvae


Brown Hairstreak

Thecla betulae


Silver-studded Blue

Plebeius argus


Northern Brown Argus

Plebeius artaxerxes


White Admiral

Limenitis camilla


Marsh Fritillary

Euphydryas aurinia



Hipparchia semele


Large Heath

Coenonympha tullia



Butterfly Conservation. Company limited by guarantee, registered in England (2206468).

Registered Office: Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QP.

Charity registered in England & Wales (254937) and in Scotland (SCO39268)



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