After the long dry Spring, the summer weather has been very wet. The white Buddleia named ‘Peace’ is in full bloom in New Lanark’s War Memorial Garden, but its flowers have been somewhat spoiled by the rain, and the butterflies that usually arrive in abundance at this time of year have not so far appeared.
However, there is one butterfly that has been seen in the Clyde Valley Nature Reserve and in New Lanark Roof Garden where it was spotted drinking nectar from a purple-flowered buddleia. (See photo.) This lovely butterfly is the Comma, so called because it has a tiny mark shaped like a comma (or small letter C) on its undersides. The Comma’s story is one of remarkable survival and adaptation.
Comma caterpillars used to feed on hops and the butterfly was plentiful in Kent and the hop-growing areas of south east England. However, when the industry went into decline, the butterfly’s population dropped severely. In the past few years, however, it has staged an amazing recovery after the caterpillars adapted to eating the leaves of stinging nettles instead of hops. As nettles grow nearly everywhere, the butterfly is now expanding its range right to the north of Scotland! Global warming may also be having an effect on its expansion. Visit New Lanark and see if you can spot this wonderful butterfly!
Liz – New Lanark Guest Blogger