Butterflies and Moths on Lundy

Red Admiral butterfly

Red Admiral

Over 350 species of butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) have been recorded on Lundy, and some of them occur regularly in spectacular numbers. Visitors to Lundy in the summer months will see many species of butterfly on the wing, including resident species such as the Large and Small Whites, Grayling, Small Copper, Meadow Brown and Small Heath. Migrant butterflies like the Painted Lady and Red Admiral turn up in late summer, and occasionally visitors from further afield like the Clouded Yellow will appear. Sheltered areas like the gardens in Millcombe and the Quarries can be good areas to observe butterflies, but some favour the more open spots where their food plants occur.

Day-flying moths often attract attention and the brightly marked Garden Tiger and Cream-spot Tiger Moth are amongst the most conspicuous and can usually be found in Millcombe in the summer. In sheltered spots where the Red Valerian grows tiny Hummingbird Hawk-moths may seen visiting the flowers on sunny days. One of the least conspicuous day-flying moths is the Thrift Clearwing, which resembles a large fly. It flies on sunny days in mid-summer where Thrift is abundant, and is probably more common on Lundy than anywhere else in Britain. The slopes around Jenny's Cove are a good site for this elusive insect. The Six-spot Burnet moth has shiny black wings with bright red spots and there are often hundreds visiting Thistle flower heads on summer days. Their empty cocoons may be seen on nearby grass stems.

Six Spot Burnet moth

Six Spot Burnets

Most moths fly at night and are unseen by visitors, whilst during the day they rely on their camouflage to remain hidden on rocks, bark or lichens. One species of moth, the Lesser Yellow Underwing, appears in a colour form here unique to Lundy and Scilly, and a tiny micro-moth, Nothris congressariella, lives on Lundy and only two or three other spots in Britain, its larvae feeding in tiny burrows inside the leaves of Balm-leaved Figwort.

Andrew Cleave September 2013