‘Extraordinary’ comma butterfly colonises Scotland – BBC News

A butterfly that was once considered to be dying out in the UK has colonised Scotland.

The comma butterfly was in severe decline within the 20th Century and had become limited to south east England and areas of the Welsh borders.

The UK population has now increased simply by 138% over the past 40 years and has distribute as far north as Inverness.

Scientists believe the “extraordinary” success is due to climate alter and the caterpillar’s nettle consumption.

Richard Fox, head associated with recording for the charity Butterfly Preservation, said: “The comma is obviously responding to climate change, which is generating its spread northwards.

“We have seen this in a number of additional species that have spread up through England in to Scotland, but the comma is by far the most dramatic example.

“It now has distribute not only through the whole of north England but up through the Scottish Borders and Lothians, through Fife and Angus. It is now on the borders of Aberdeen and has been discovered in recent years near Inverness. ”

Hop dog

He said the comma was once firmly associated with the herb hop and was sometimes nicknamed the hop dog.

“Although hop is still around as a crazy plant, the mass agricultural increasing of hop for brewing is a lot diminished nowadays, ” he mentioned. “It is also much more thinly distribute in Scotland.

“But commas have become less dependent on jump and started to specialise on other activities, particularly on the stinging nettle.

“Climate is driving the particular change but the comma has just been able to achieve this amazing spread northern because it has become more specialised upon stinging nettles, which are very common. ”


Comma butterfly

The orange colored and brown-coloured comma – Polygonia c-album – takes its name from the white marking on its bottom that is shaped like a comma.

With their wings closed, sleeping or hibernating adults are hidden against dead leaves, while the larvae, flecked with brown and whitened markings, resemble bird droppings.

The species has a versatile life cycle, which allows it in order to capitalise on favourable weather conditions.


Conservationists really want the public to chart the improvement of the comma during this year’s yearly Big Butterfly Count.

The world’s largest butterfly study, which runs until 6 Aug, encourages people to spot and report 18 species of common butterflies plus two day-flying moths across the UNITED KINGDOM.

The results will help monitor the ongoing spread of the comma and could shed more light at the population fluctuations of the butterfly.

Mr Fox added: “The comma is one of the Big Butterfly Rely species that has bucked the trend plus done well in Britain more than recent decades. It may be even further northern than we currently know. inch

‘Success story’

Although found in a multitude of habitats, adult commas can be seen giving on bramble, thistles and knapweed along canals and riversides. Their particular caterpillars feed upon nettles plus hops in the same areas.

Sir David Attenborough, chief executive of the BC charity, said: “Canals and rivers are fantastic places for many species of butterfly.

“The comma is one of our the majority of exquisite butterflies and hearteningly can also be something of a butterfly success tale. ”

Those planning to take part in the Big Butterfly Count ought to find a sunny spot and invest 15 minutes counting butterflies.

Records can be submitted online on www.bigbutterflycount.org or via the free Huge Butterfly Count app.