A Speckled Wood butterfly seen fluttering across Bow Creek on 25 January by Biodiversity Officer John Archer seems to be the first sighting in the United Kingdom this year.
The Speckled Wood is common in Tower Hamlets in open spaces with plenty of trees, but is usually on the wing between April and October. Butterflies are often seen on mild, sunny days during the winter, but these are usually species which hibernate as adults, such as Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Red Admiral and Brimstone. The Speckled Wood usually overwinters as a caterpillar or chrysalis. The individual seen by John looked very tatty, so was obviously one of last autumn’s butterflies which had somehow survived the winter, rather than an early emergence.
Richard Fox, Head of Recording at Butterfly Conservation, said “that’s fantastic. It’s the first one that I’ve heard of this year, so I’ll get it up on the Butterfly Conservation First Sightings page. We do get at least one January sighting most years nowadays, but it is certainly a rare sight.”
Header photo of Speckled Wood by Peter Minvalla