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Let’s go local butterfly exploring this summer

By Michelle Monaghan

EARLIER THIS MONTH, sightings of Black-veined white butterflies were spotted in South-East London. Once thought extinct, people marvelled at these butterflies’ unique black vein pattern and shared their sightings across the internet. Yet, you can find plenty of amazing butterflies right here in Hampshire!

According to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch of Butterfly Conservation (HantsIoW BC), 46 of the UK’s 61 butterfly species call the area home. Although they can be seen anywhere, there are three reserves where it is best to find the butterflies in huge numbers. 

Magdalen Hill Down and Yew Hill are located near Winchester and Bentley Station Meadow, next to the Alice Holt Forest, not far from Farnham. Together, the three reserves make 130 acres and are open to anyone all year at no charge. What could be a better activity this summer than going butterfly watching?

A few of the butterflies that HantsloW BC recommends looking out for include Glanville FritillarySilver-studded Blue, Chalk Hill BlueDuke of BurgundySmall Skipper and Essex Skipper

In previous years, the Comma and Common Blue have been spotted in Gosport in local parks such as Alver Valley. 

The first butterfly I saw this year was the Clouded Yellow in my garden. What struck me the most about this butterfly was how its wings easily blended with the leaves of many plants in the garden. Depending on the light, its wings looked light green and could easily be mistaken for a leaf blown around by the wind.

The Peacock has made its appearance, too. The variety of colours and patterns on its wings is genuinely remarkable. Unsurprisingly, that it takes its name from the brightly coloured bird. 

These sightings demonstrate how easy it is for numerous butterflies to be seen in the garden at our homes. To attract butterflies to visit your garden this summer, ecologist Larissa Cooper from the Natural History Museum provides these top tips:

  • Provide food
  • Create warmth
  • Think about your area
  • Maximise window boxes
  • Leave fallen fruit on the ground
  • Cut down on weeding
  • Avoid pesticides
  • Create shelter

If you want to see more than the ones in your garden, consider joining a butterfly walk held at various locations throughout Hampshire. Get involved by volunteering at your local Butterfly Conservation branch or get up close and personal by helping to record and monitor butterflies. 

However you decide to do it, now is the time to go butterfly exploring!

For more information regarding local butterflies, visit:

To get involved in butterfly conservation efforts, go to:

PICTURED BY MICHELLE MONAGHAN: Butterfly at the Utrecht Botanic Gardens.