Late summer butterflies

Painted Lady - Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography

With summer quickly heading towards Autumn the nights are starting to draw in and many of our borders are beginning to flag after flowering all summer. However, we still need to give wildlife a helping hand, several UK butterflies are still on the wing, searching gardens for a drink of nectar before preparing for hibernation or a long journey back to the continent.

There are lots of suitable nectar rich plants available that will continue flowering through until September. Not only will your garden look beautiful but you will attract lots of bees, butterflies and birds. Some plants to consider including in your borders include Buddleia, Ivy, Hydrangea, Hebe, Globe thistle and Scabious.

There are several butterflies to look out for, you can record these on the Butterfly Conservation website where the data will be used to help build up a picture about how butterflies are faring across the UK.

Painted Lady - Richard Burkmar

Painted Lady - Richard Burkmar

The Painted Lady is a well known delicate orange and black butterfly that migrates to the UK from Africa each summer. Adults emerge in August and September and they can be found everywhere!

This year could see a natural phenomenon with millions emerging in the late summer - an occurrence that last happened in 2009.  

Peacock - Richard Burkmar

Peacock - Richard Burkmar

The Peacock butterfly is one of the most recognisable with large blue striking 'eyes' on its wings. On the wing throughout the year, the Peacock stays in the UK for winter, finding dark crevices, sheds and tree holes to hibernate in. Interestingly, they can rub their wings together quickly to make a hissing noise to frighten predators when alarmed. 

The comma butterfly is named because of its white markings on the underside of their wings that resemble a comma. Camouflage is key to keep it safe and with its raggedy wings is easily mistaken for a leaf. Despite favouring woodland edges, prior to hibernation they will often visit gardens in search of nectar.    

Small tortoiseshell - Jim Higham

Small tortoiseshell - Jim Higham 

A familiar garden visitor that can be seen feeding on flowers all year round during warm spells is the Small tortoiseshell. It is a very pretty butterfly with blue spots around the edge of their wings. Males are very territorial, chasing each other, other butterflies and anything else that appears in their space! They court females by 'drumming' their antennae on the females' hindwings.

Red Admiral - Richard Burkmar

Red Admiral - Richard Burkmar

Another migrant butterfly is the Red admiral, which arrives to the UK in Spring from North Africa and continental Europe.

It is an impressive garen visitor, large with striking black and red markings. They have a wingspan of nearly 8cm!