Thursday, 17 July 2014

Have You Seen This Butterfly?

Birdguides received news early this week that an unprecedented invasion of Scarce Tortoiseshell (also known as Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell) nymphalis xanthomelas La Vanesse du saule or Tortue à pattes jaunes  was taking place in the Netherlands — a country which had never previously recorded this eastern European species. There was until this week only one British record of this species, in 1953. Already a handful of new records has been confirmed in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

They're coming - are they on their way here? They are unknown in France too. My pocket guide describes them as preferring valley bottoms and willows - we've got plenty of those! All photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Scarce Tortoiseshell by J.M.Garg, taken at Kullu Distt., Himachal, India

Scarce Tortoiseshell by Alpsdake, Mount Gozaisho, Japan
The Scarce Tortoiseshell is sometimes referred to as the Large Tortoiseshell. The latter name now belongs to Nymphalis Polychloros, which looks very similar, but has brown legs, hence its other name Black-Legged Tortoiseshell (er...). This species is native to Western Europe and we occasionally see them here.

As you see, they look very similar!

By Algirdas
By Algirdas. Image rotated through 90 degrees
Here's a comparison:





Susan said...

Good grief! No one is going to be able to tell them apart in the field! Curiously, Large Tortoiseshells have had a good year this year in France, emerging rather early and being recorded unusually often.

Pollygarter said...

I think there could be the possibility that one of the photographers has got it wrong...

Tim said...

"...emerging rather early and being recorded unusually often."

Or are Scarce/Yellow-legged being misrecorded?
We were trying to find a better set of pictures of Yellow-legged vs Large this morning...
there were some from Denmark that showed paler legs... note: paler, not yellow!
They were taken MARCH 13th this year!