RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Keep your eyes peeled for this beauty

editorial image

This photograph by Brian Henman gives a taster of things to come.

The pearl-bordered fritillary will be flying at the very end of April somewhere in Sussex – we hope. So keep your eyes peeled.

The 2011 (latest) Butterfly Monitoring Scheme report shows that this gorgeous insect made a comeback that year after a gradual decline measured over the previous 38 years.

Its stronghold is Hampshire westward. They disappeared from my and my wife’s transects in the very early years.

The nursery food for the caterpillar is the leaves of violets.

But that nursery has to be in a warm clearing in the woods and best of all with a stream below the glade (ie it needs damp woods).

The adult butterfly nectars on a variety of flowers – here shown on bugle.

The pearl-bordered used to be called the April fritillary – but that was before the 1752 calendar change moved dates forward 15 days.

Before global warming, it was very much a May butterfly. Oh – and if you see one in mid-June onwards, it is probably actually a small pearl-bordered!