Butterfly beauties

The grassland at Darnley Mill provides a vital resource for a number of butterfly species. Over the past few years the Glasgow City Council Countryside Ranger Service has been recording butterflies within this area. The Dams to Darnley Country Park Countryside Rangers have now also got involved in this task.

Each week from early April through to September the countryside rangers walk the same transects (a walk during which butterflies are counted while walking along a standard route). These transects allow the countryside rangers to build up baseline data to assess the size and health of the butterfly population. It also helps to identify grassland that could be improved by habitat management to increase its biodiversity value.

It is important to carry out surveys weekly, as different species of butterfly are around at different times during the season. The orange-tip butterfly will be found in April to May, whereas the ringlet will start to appear around July. Other butterflies will be present throughout season.

Surveys carried out in 2006 showed at total of 13 species of butterfly, along with five species of day-flying moth. The results found that the meadow brown butterfly was the most common, with 38 butterflies counted on one day. Orange-tips, peacocks and green veined whites where also counted in good numbers.

To report recent butterfly sightings visit the wildlife sighting section.

What species can be seen in the country park?

Ten species of butterfly can be regularly seen in the country park.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

One of the first butterflies of the year, often seen in April, the male has a bright patch on the top of each wing.

Green-veined white (Pieris napi)

This butterfly has a wing span of 4-5cm. As the name suggests it has greenish veins on the underside of its wings.

Large white (Pieris brassicae)

A large white butterfly which has a prominent black patch on its forewing.

Small white (Pieris rapae)

A small white butterfly that can be seen around the country park, similar to the large white, but less black on the wing tip.

Common blue (Polyommatus icarus)

A lovely small blue butterfly that can be regularly seen around grassland.

Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

A small butterfly that has a wing span of 3cm. It will often come back to the same perch.

Peacock (Inachis io)

A large butterfly that is very easy to identify because of its markings that are like a pair of eyes on its wings.

Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

A butterfly with bright orange and black wings with white spots on its forewing and blue spots along the trailing edge of both wings.  It lays it eggs on stinging nettles.

Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

A large butterfly with red stripes accompanied by white spots on its wings, this butterfly is easy to identify. It is a migrant species which may have flown from Africa!

Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina)

A light brown medium-sized butterfly that is very common at Darnley Mill.

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

A recent arrival to the country park, it is a small dark brown butterfly with several small rings on its lower wing, which is where its name originates from.

Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

A small light brown and orange butterfly that has a black eyespot on its forewing.

For more butterfly information and identification tips visit the Butterfly Conservation Trust.