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Butterfly Conservation- Glasgow & South West Scotland Branch

Butterfly and Moth Surveys 2015

The branch committee is very keen for more branch members to get involved in butterfly surveys in 2015 and has produced the following web pages to direct and support any members who wish to be involved in butterfly and moth surveying.

The aim of butterfly and moth surveys is not just to record the presence of butterflies or moths but also to learn more about the habitats and ecology of each species and to get information on the condition of the site so that Butterfly Conservation can implement appropriate management if required.


Forester Surveys in Argyll 2015 (Word Document)    | Background & aims of 2014 Survey
Forester Surveys in Argyll 2015 Recording Form (Word Document)    | Print copies & take into field
 When to Do: June-July


Scottish Speckled Wood Survey
 When to Do: April to September

Wider Countryside Butterfly Surveys in Glasgow & SW Scotland Branch Area
 When to Do:1 visit in July and 1 visit in August. Optional visits in May & June for Spring species

Recording Butterflies in your 1 km Patch
 When to Do:February to November

Pearl-bordered Fritillary Surveys in different parts of Scotland
 When to Do: mid to late May

Chequered Skipper Surveys in North Argyll & Lochaber
 When to Do: mid-May to late June

Northern Brown Argus Surveys in Ayrshire & Dumfries & Galloway
 When to Do: end May to mid August

Dingy Skipper Surveys in Ayrshire & Dumfries & Galloway
 When to Do: early May to late June

While UK butterflies have been studied by keen naturalists for several centuries, butterflies in Scotland have not been studied to the same degree as those in southern England and many of the butterly species which occur in both Scotland and England have different sub-species in Scotland. Those Victorian naturalists with long white beards did not discover everything there is to know about UK butterflies and they tended to be more pre-occupied with morphological variations which occur within a butterfly species than with butterfly ecology and understanding why butterflies occur at the places they do. It is known that butterfly populations at the edge of their ranges have to adapt to survive in more marginal conditions and are therefore somewhat different. The low spring and summer temperatures in Scotland are marginal for many butterfly species which need warmth and sunshine to survive and the Scottish sub-species are the result of local butterfly populations adapting to these low spring and summer temperatures. So please don't assume that there is nothing new to learn about Scotland's butterflies: there is much to learn about the ecology of these Scottish sub-species and we know very little about most butterfly sites in Scotland (all we have is a six figure grid reference in many cases) and need much more detailed information about size of the colony and condition of the habitat. To learn more about the Scottish sub-species of the 34 butterfly species which occur in the SW Scotland branch area, see butterfly species.

When butterfly surveying, it is better to focus on one or two sites and have a good wander around a couple of 1 km squares venturing away from the road rather than dashing around as many different sites as possible and only visiting a small area in the vicinity of a historical grid reference. It can be the case that a historical grid reference is at the very margin of a butterfly habitat where numbers are relatively low but by being a bit more adventurous, the major habitat may be discovered where butterfly numbers are much higher. This is certainly true of Pearl-bordered Fritillary where the best habitat is on steep dry south facing slopes at 200-300 m some distance from roads. See the Butterflies of Glasdrum NNR in 2008 as an example of what can be achieved with a GPS and how far and high up hillsides Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Chequered Skipper can be found. See the Pearl-bordered Fritillary Survey pages to see the many historical sites in various parts of highland Scotland which need to be re-visited and investigated. Many of these sites are in areas of fantastic scenery!

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