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Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly (Aglais urticae)

Carlo Forte (September)



The small tortoiseshell is bright orange and black with a row of blue crescents around the wing edges. Underneath, they are camouflaged dark grey and brown. Until recently they were one of the commoner garden butterflies throughout the UK, but in recent years it has a suffered dramatic decline, especially in South East England where its numbers are down by over 80 per cent since 1990. The fact that losses are greater in South East England suggests that the problem may be linked to climate change.

Another suspect is the tiny parasite fly Sturmia bella, which may have be killing tem off. Its arrival from Southern Europe is either the result of climate change or an unwitting introduction from caterpillars brought in from Europe. The charity Butterfly Conservation has launched a research project with Oxford UniversityâÂ.Â.s Department of Zoology to determine the extent, if any, that the fly is to blame.



This particular specimen was found in the Alps at about 3000m basking in the sunshine on some moss campion.






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