Hot weather leads to unusual butterfly sighting in Devizes garden

This Is Wiltshire: This silver-washed fritillary photographed in a garden in Southbroom Road, Devizes This silver-washed fritillary photographed in a garden in Southbroom Road, Devizes

The spell of hot weather is thought to be behind the sighting of a butterfly in the centre of Devizes which usually haunts woodland.

The orange silver-washed fritillary was photographed in a garden in Southbroom Road, Devizes, on July 22.

The owner of the garden wishes to remain anonymous but took a photograph and showed it to friend and neighbour Chris Goodchild, a butterfly enthusiast for 40 years, who found out what it was.

Mr Goodchild, a retired antique dealer, said: “The butterfly was on an apple tree in my neighbour’s garden. There are about eight fritillary species and I have never seen the silver-washed fritillary. It’s pretty rare. I was very surprised it was in my neighbour’s garden.”

Stephen Davis, head of conservation policy at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, confirmed the butterfly was a male silver-washed fritillary.

He said: “They are not particularly rare in Wiltshire but it is extremely unusual to see one in an urban garden. They are butterflies of mature semi-natural woodland (with lots of oak). The caterpillars feed on common dog violet, which occur on the woodland floor.

“When the weather is hot, as it has been recently, butterflies will migrate and expand beyond their normal site boundaries. It’s a really nice record to have in the centre of town.”

The butterfly gets its name from the streaks of silver found on the underside of the wings.

Butterfly Conservation says on its website that the silver-washed fritillary declined during the 20th century, especially in England and Wales, but has spread noticeably during recent decades and is widespread across southern England and Wales and more locally in northern England and Ireland.

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