Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Looking out for Mountain Ringlets

This time of the year is a wonderful time to see a wealth of different insect species while you're out enjoying your walk. A wide variety of dragonflies and damselflies inhabit the becks and tarns including the impressive Golden-ringed Dragonfly, the Large Red Damselfly and the Common Darter.

 Large Red Damselfly

On a good sunny day, if you wander into any taller vegetation a bit further off the beaten track, there's also a good chance of disturbing moths such as Yellow Shell and Green Carpet or possibly Map-winged Swift, whose larvae are closely associated with bracken roots.

 Map-winged Swift

While walking the fells it's also possible to see a good array of butterflies, including more common species such as the Red Admiral and Painted Lady at lower altitudes and as you gain a bit more height, less well known butterflies like the Small Heath (probably the most common butterfly on the higher fell) and the Mountain Ringlet.

 Small Heath butterfly

The Mountain Ringlet butterfly is a rare and incredibly under recorded species. It is found on mountainous slopes dominated by Mat-grass, at an altitude of between 500 and 750 metres, with the Lake District being to the far south of it's British distribution. The Mountain Ringlet tends to fly close to the ground and will often disappear out of sight as soon as the wind picks up, or the sun clouds over. The best period to see this butterfly is from mid-June until late-July.

Mountain Ringlet

Whenever we are out and about during June and July if we happen to stumble across one of these rare butterflies we always record it's whereabouts and forward on the information to the Cumbrian Biological Records Centre based at Tullie House in Carlisle, here's a link to their excellent website http://www.lakelandwildlife.co.uk/

This year, to try and gain a bit more knowledge about the Mountain Ringlet's abundance, distribution, and habitat preferences Butterfly Conservation are running a survey, and they could do with as much help as possible. If you fancy taking part in this years Mountain Ringlet Survey, have a look at the website of the Cumbria Branch of Butterfly Conservation or download the information sheets below:

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