HOME
Support this site

YEAR LIST, 2018

NEW!    SWISS BUTTERFLY CALENDAR 2019 - CLICK HERE


For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 20102009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001. I seem to have lost the file for 2000.
Some of my friends also keep, or have kept, online year-lists. Tim Cowles, living in the Monts du Lyonnais, publishes his list HERE and Matthew Rowlings, who lives not far from me in Vevey, Switzerland, has his HERE. Both of these seem to have let their lists slip recently, but another friend, Robin Fox, in Italy, keeps a regularly updated sightings diary HERE.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2018 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
CHECKLIST FOR THE YEAR 2018
  1. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 6th January - Valais
  2. Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 6th January - Valais
  3. Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 13th January - Valais
  4. Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 30th January - Vaud
  5. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 21st February - North Italy
  6. Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 21st March - Suffolk, UK
  7. Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 23rd March - North Italy
  8. Peacock (Aglais io) - 25th March - Valais
  9. Eastern Bath white (Pontia edusa) - 25th March - Valais
  10. Small white (Pieris rapae) - 25th March - Valais
  11. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 31st March - Valais
  12. Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 19th April - Vaud
  13. Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 19th April - Vaud
  14. Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 20th April - Valais
  15. Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 20th April - Valais
  16. Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 20th April - Valais
  17. Violet fritillary (Boloria dia) - 20th April - Valais
  18. Berger's clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 20th April - Valais
  19. Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 20th April - Valais
  20. Chapman's blue (Polyommatus thersites) - 20th April - Valais
  21. Southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvoides) - 20th April - Valais
  22. Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - 20th April - Valais
  23. Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 20th April - Valais
  24. Baton blue (Scolitantides baton) - 20th April - Valais
  25. Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - 20th April - Valais
  26. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 20th April - Valais
  27. De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 21st April - Valais
  28. Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 22nd April - Vaud
  29. Pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) - 25th April - Vaud
  30. Provençal short-tailed blue (Cupido alcetas) - 27th April - Valais
  31. Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) - 27th April - Valais
  32. Nickerl's fritillary (Melitaea aurelia) - 27th April - Valais
  33. Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 27th April - Valais
  34. Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 27th April - Valais
  35. Green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis) - 27th April - Valais
  36. Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 27th April - Valais
  37. Mallow skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 27th April - Valais
  38. Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 28th April - Vaud
  39. Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) - 28th April - Vaud
  40. Sooty copper (Lycaena tityrus) - 28th April - Vaud
  41. Red-underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 28th April - Valais
  42. Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 28th April - Valais
  43. Southern small white (Pieris mannii) - 28th April - Valais
  44. Short-tailed blue (Cupido argiades) - 4th May - Vaud
  45. Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 5th May - Valais
  46. Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 5th May - Valais
  47. Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 5th May - Valais
  48. Iolas blue Iolana iolas) - 5th May - Valais
  49. Meadow fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) - 9th May - Vaud
  50. Turquoise blue (Polyommatus dorylas) - 11th May - Valais
  51. Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 11th May - Valais
  52. Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 18th May - Valais
  53. Mountain dappled white (Euchloe simplonia) - 18th May - Valais
  54. Cardinal (Argynnis pandora) - 18th May - Valais
  55. Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 18th May - Valais
  56. Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - 22nd May - Vaud
  57. Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 25th May - Geneva
  58. Black hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) - 25th May - Geneva
  59. Heath fritillary (Melitaea athalia/nevadensis) - 25th May - Geneva
  60. Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 25th May - Geneva
  61. Reverdin's blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - 25th May - Geneva
  62. Large copper (Lycaena dispar) - 25th May - Geneva
  63. Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 25th May - Geneva
  64. Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 26th May - Vaud
  65. Southern white admiral (Limenitis reducta) - 28th May - Valais
  66. Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 28th May - Valais
  67. Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 28th May - Valais
  68. Mazarine blue (Cyaniris semiargus) - 28th May - Valais
  69. Geranium argus (Aricia eumedon) - 29th May - Vaud
  70. Large wall (Lasiommata maera) - 30th May - Vaud*
  71. Violet copper (Lycaena helle) - 1st June - Vaud
  72. Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 1st June - Vaud
  73. White admiral (Limenitis camilla) - 2nd June - Geneva
  74. Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 2nd June - Geneva
  75. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 2nd June - Geneva
  76. Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 7th June - Vaud
  77. Provençal fritillary (Melitaea deione berisalii) - 8th June - Valais
  78. Marbled fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - 8th June - Valais
  79. Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 8th June - Valais
  80. Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 8th June - Valais
  81. Marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 8th June - Valais
  82. Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 8th June - Valais
  83. Swiss Zephy blue (Plebejus trappi) - 8th June - Valais
  84. Purple emperor (Apatura iris) - 10th June - Geneva
  85. Lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) - 10th June - Geneva
  86. Dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - 11th June - Vaud
  87. Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) - 15th June - Vaud
  88. False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 15th June - Vaud
  89. Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis ion) - 15th June - Vaud
  90. Woodland ringlet (Erebia medusa) - 15th June - Vaud
  91. Niobe fritillary (Argynnis niobe) - 16th June - Vaud
  92. Great banded grayling (Brintesia circe) - 17th June - Vaud
  93. Sloe hairstreak (Satyrium acaciae) - 17th June - Vaud
  94. High brown fritillary (Argynnis adippe) - 18th June - Vaud
  95. Alpine heath (Coenonympha gardetta) - 22nd June - Valais
  96. Large ringlet (Erebia euryale) - 22nd June - Valais
  97. Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 22nd June - Valais
  98. Asian fritillary (Euphydryas intermedia) - 22nd June - Valais
  99. Mountain green-veined white (Pieris bryoniae) - 22nd June - Valais
  100. Alpine grizzled skipper (Pyrgus andromedae) - 22nd June - Valais
  101. Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 22nd June - Valais
  102. Scarce copper (Lycaena virgaureae) - 22nd June - Valais
  103. Escher's blue (Polyommatus escheri) - 22nd June - Valais
  104. Moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno) - 22nd June - Valais
  105. Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - 23rd June - Vaud
  106. Ilex hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - 25th June - Valais
  107. Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 25th June - Valais
  108. Rock grayling (Hipparchia alcyone) - 25th June - Valais
  109. Dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon) - 25th June - Valais
  110. Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) - 26th June - Vaud
  111. Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 26th June - Vaud
  112. Arran brown (Erebia triaria) - 27th June - Vaud
  113. Chalkhill blue (Polyommatus coridon) - 1st July - Valais
  114. Purple-shot copper (Lycaena alciphron) - 1st July - Valais
  115. Purple-edged copper (Lycaena hippothoe) - 4th July - Bern
  116. Dusky large blue (Phengaris nausithous) - 4th July - Bern
  117. Scarce large blue (Phengaris telejus) - 4th July - Bern
  118. Darwin's heath (Coenonympha [gardetta] darwiniana) - 7th July - Valais
  119. Almond-eyed ringlet (Erebia alberganus) - 7th July - Valais
  120. Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 7th July - Valais
  121. Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 7th July - Valais
  122. Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 7th July - Valais
  123. White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 8th July - Vaud
  124. Marbled ringlet (Erebia montana) - 9th July - Valais
  125. Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 9th July - Valais
  126. Swiss brassy ringlet (Erebia tyndarus) - 9th July - Valais
  127. Rätzer's ringlet (Erebia christi) - 9th July - Valais
  128. Blue-spot hairstrea (Satyrium spini) - 9th July - Valais
  129. Glandon blue (Plebejus glandon) - 11th July 2018 - Valais
  130. Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 11th July 2018 - Valais
  131. Mnestra ringlet (Erebia mnestra) - 11th July 2018 - Valais
  132. Cranberry blue (Plebejus optilete) - 11th July 2018 - Valais
  133. Large heath (Coenonympha tullia) - 14th July - Bern
  134. Pale clouded yellow (Colias hyale) - 17th July - Vaud
  135. Silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma) - 18th July - Valais
  136. Grisons fritillary (Melitaea varia) - 18th July - Valais
  137. Carline skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) - 18th July - Valais
  138. Olive skipper (Pyrgus serratulae) - 18th July - Valais
  139. Large grizzled skipper (Pyrgus alveus) - 18th July - Valais
  140. Woodland ringlet (Hipparchia fagi)- 20th July - North Italy
  141. Damon blue (Polyommatus damon) - 20th July - North Italy
  142. Piedmont anomalous blue (Polyommatus humedasae)- 20th July - North Italy
  143. Meleager's blue (Polyommatus daphnis)- 20th July - North Italy
  144. Shepherd's fritillary (Boloria pales) - 26th July - Grisons
  145. Mountain fritillary (Boloria napaea) - 26th July - Grisons
  146. Dryad (Minois dryas) - 31st July - Valais
  147. Purple hairstreak (Neozephyrus quercus) - 31st July - Valais
  148. Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 31st July - Valais
  149. Common brassy ringlet (Erebia cassioides) - 3rd August - Vaud
  150. Manto ringlet (Erebia manto) - 3rd August - Vaud
  151. Scotch argus (Erebia aethiops) - 3rd August - Vaud **
  152. Cynthia's fritillary (Euphydryas cynthia) - 3rd August - Vaud
  153. Water ringlet (Erebia pronoe) - 3rd August - Vaud
  154. Dewy ringlet (Erebia pandrose) - 3rd August - Vaud
  155. Tree grayling (Hipparchia statilinus) - 12th August - Valais
  156. Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) - 14th August - Suffolk, UK
* This was not the first large wall I saw this year but I didn't record first and can't recall which day it was
** I actually saw the first Scotch arguses a couple of weeks ago but cannot remember the day - and they have been flying in the local woods since

Commentary
(Links in the commentary are to pictures of the particular butterflies referred to)

January
1st: Spent the New Year in Suffolk, UK, where there was no possibility of seeing any butterflies! Here are an avocet and a redshank paddling in the river Deben in the grey gloom of an overcast day.
5th: Took my first forest walk of the year. The damage caused by storm Eleanor is horrific - there are trees fallen all over the place and broken branches strewn on the ground. I noticed some branches had come off one of the elms where white-letter hairstreaks lay, so checked briefly for eggs on the accessible twigs. I’ll check more thoroughly over the next few days, but came home today with two eggs (here and here), which I put in the fridge to keep safe until the spring. Here and here are shots of the first of those eggs taken through the microscope (with my iPhone).
6th: Sun forecast for the valley, so I set off for my Queen of Spain hotspots just in case anything would fly. With a stiff breeze blowing when I arrived, I didn’t really expect anything, so was pleasantly surprised when a red admiral cruised past, saluting me en passant. Finally, at about 12h30, I found at least two Queens holding fort near the top of a high bank at one of my hotspots. The first flew down and away; the second stopped a short while and allowed a distant, proof shot on full zoom. The season has begun!
13th: Sunny but very cold in Valais, rising to a maximum of probably 1 degree. There was also a chilly breeze, making it feel colder and preventing the build-up of any real hotspots. I saw a single Queen of Spain fritillary - the same individual as I photographed last week - and, much more surprisingly a single large tortoiseshell. I accidentally put up this last from a woody path where I wasn’t expecting to see any butterflies and it quickly disappeared up a slope and over trees - no chance of a photo of the butterfly. I wonder if it had been disturbed from hibernation by storm Eleanor at the beginning of January. It shouldn't have been flying and I hope it manages to hunker down for another few weeks until its friends join it.
26th: No opportunities for butterflies since 13th - and generally overcast, sometimes rainy, sometimes snowy, weather. Forest walks are still difficult because the path is still obstructed  by trees fallen during storm Eleanor. Nevertheless, we did the full circuit today. Here, here and here are photos of an open white admiral hibernaculum with caterpillar clearly visible within.
28th: Sun all day in the valley, and despite a chill breeze preventing hotspots building up it felt remarkably warm. Nevertheless, no butterflies at all on my usual walk. I returned via the bulbocodium fields, where small tortoiseshells are usually to be found in spring taking nectar. Plenty of bulbocodium in flower, and a few flies on some, but no tortoiseshells at all.
29th: Sunny and almost warm in Huémoz. I expected to see a small tortoiseshell on my lunchtime walk but none were flying. It is an unusual year.
30th: Finally, the first small tortoiseshell of the year, flying near Huémoz (and here). After taking those shots, I turned to monitor Minnie as the post van went past, and when I turned back to the butterfly it was gone.

February
4th: No chances to go butterflying recently, by time or weather. Here is a brown hairstreak egg from my local patch, and here a close-up of it.
6th: Cold but sunny. At least 4 small tortoiseshells (and here) seen in Huémoz, three of them over this bank.
14th: Still cold. Plenty of snow fell a few days ago but is now melting again. Two or three small tortoiseshells were flying around Huémoz at lunchtime, in temperatures of 2°C and a chill breeze. Here is one in the context of the snow.
19th: Sunny but quite cold in the valley: 2°C when I arrived at the site, 7°C when I left at 13h30. Small tortoiseshells have now woken up properly (and here, and here, and here). They were flying throughout my walk, including in the orchards near Martigny as I returned to the station. I saw about 20 in total. A number were in very poor condition (here and here) - perhaps a consequence of Storm Eleanor earlier in the year. Here is a plump female, ready to lay eggs soon. In addition, I saw a single Queen of Spain. It was messing around at the top of a bank and I only got literally a proof shot. Other than that, a little surprisingly, no butterflies - but I left by early and had to hurry round. Here is one of the many lizards scuttling around in the vineyards. This is my first pasque flower of the year.
21st: Day trip to North Italy to see what, if anything, was on the wing. The answer was, not very much, though it was a beautiful day. I first walked up into the hills, to a site where large tortoiseshells are abundant in March. It was warm and sunny - and a very pleasant walk - but all I saw were two small tortoiseshells. At my next site, closer to the valley floor, I saw a single, male brimstone roding, and finally, in Domodossola, next to the river, I saw a third small tortoiseshell. By the time I left, the temperature had risen to 10°C and it felt warmer in the sun. But the butterflies are less impatient than I, and were clearly waiting for real spring before emerging from their winter slumbers.

March
4th: After the big freeze, with temperatures down to as low as -18°C over the last few days, things have returned to normal. Today was sunny and warm. I saw a single small tortoiseshell on my local walk at lunchtime. Here is a snowdrop in the woods.
8th: Two small tortoiseshells seen on today's lunchtime walk.
9th: Despite a reasonable forecast, it was mostly overcast this morning. I set off late for the valley, heading for a good large tortoiseshell site. Because the sun never came out, I initially saw nothing at all except a handful of orange underwing moths. It was warm, though, and eventually I did come across this single large tortoiseshell trying to sun itself on the ground. I could see it was sunny further east along the valley, so decided to head that way to another large tortoiseshell site. I arrived at about 15h15, by which time the sun was disappearing behind the mountains. I saw two more large tortoiseshells before full shade fell (at about 15h30).
14th: A sunny day here in the mountains. Several small tortoiseshells were flying and I saw this large tortoiseshell about 100m from my house. Still little on the wing, though.
15th: A little sun in the morning but mostly cloudy, degrading to cloud, rain and wind by the afternoon. Amazingly, a couple of small tortoiseshells were battling against the wind and even rain on my early afternoon walk. There was no sun at all and I lost them, so bad was the visibility!
21st: Vernal equinox. For family reasons, I have been in Suffolk for a week. Although there has been some sun, it has usually been cold and until today I saw no butterflies. Today, a single small tortoiseshell flew while I was on a walk before lunch and later a comma appeared in the back garden.
23rd: Having arrived back from the UK last night, I picked up Minnie from kennels in the morning then headed east along the Rhône Valley to take her for a walk. At some stage, I decided I would carry on into Italy to look for nettle tree butterflies and any early emergers. It was later in the day than my usual trips to Italy. I arrived at Domodossola at about midday and reached my first hill station for nettle trees (a fairly arduous cycle ride) at about a quarter to one. Everything was still very wintry. I saw a few brimstones and a couple of small tortoiseshells on the cycle ride but no whites or orange tips. At the site I soon saw a single nettle tree butterfly flitting around high in a nettle tree. Large tortoiseshells were the commonest butterfly but during the walk I saw probably a dozen nettle tree butterflies - maybe a little more - almost all high in the trees, directly into the sun. This one stopped long enough for a quick shot. The sun is a finger or two below the bottom of the picture! This individual, taken through a gap in the bramble, is the only one I saw anywhere near the ground. A few brimstones were roding and I saw a very few more small tortoiseshells, but basically it was large tortoiseshells and nettle trees. No green hairstreaks, small coppers, grizzled skippers or any whites - all of which I had expected to see. I called in at two further sites, seeing nothing more. Here is a large tortoiseshell nearer to the valley floor. That and brimstone were the only species I saw after I had left the main nettle tree site.
24th: I stayed local today. In the forest, male brimstones were roding widely and a few red admirals were actively defending sunspots. There were good numbers of large tortoiseshells around and small tortoiseshells too. I saw just two commas. None of the non-hibernators are on the wing yet. Here is a white admiral caterpillar, still in his sleeping bag for the winter. The wych elm flower buds are not open yet but are growing visibly.
25th: A beautiful, sunny day was forecast so Minnie and I headed east along the Rhône Valley again, to see what was flying - in Switzerland, not Italy, this time. Because of the clock change, it was still very cold and actually overcast when we cycled down the hill at 09h20. We reached our first site some time before 11h00 but it was still cold then. A couple of large tortoiseshells greeted us, soon followed by a small tortoiseshell and some brimstones. The day did hot up, as promised, and although the forecast temperature was only about 5 degrees it felt warmer than that. Nevertheless, we saw only hibernators until the early afternoon. This sallow was host to small tortoiseshell, large tortoiseshell and peacock. Here are a small tortoiseshell and brimstone on one of the few flowering dandelions. Unusually, there were no commas. I did see a possible comma in the distance, flying along the track, but couldn’t confirm it. Until about 12h45, these were the only butterflies I saw. Then, on the way back to the train (as I had to be home early), I was pleased to see a couple of Bath whites, of which one stopped briefly to nectar on speedwell. I continued through grizzled skipper country without seeing any of this species. Finally, with minutes to spare for the train, I found some more dandelions and other flowers where Bath and small whites were both very occasionally stopping to nectar.
31st: I had a lot to do in the morning but found time to attach the white-letter hairstreak eggs I had rescued after the storms to the freshly budding wych elms. Of five rescued, just one seems to be truly viable. This is it, fastened with fine cotton right next to a bud. I hope it will survive. There were no butterflies flying in the woods - it was too cold and overcast. Here and here are a couple of local brown hairstreak eggs. In the afternoon I cycled down to the valley to give Minnie her last walk before the Easter holidays. I expected it to be mostly cloudy but in the event there was some sun - though also a very strong wind - and I did see a few butterflies. New for the year was this orange tip - the only one I saw. Large tortoiseshells were common, many looking well worn. This has been a strong year for them so far. Also flying were male and female brimstones (here is a couple in flight), small tortoiseshells, a few peacocks, a Bath white, a small white and a single comma. I cycled back through grizzled skipper and green hairstreak country but to my surprise saw neither. Admittedly, the sun had gone in by then but it was still warm.

April
4th: I've been back in Suffolk for a few days. Today, for the first time since arriving and despite the wind, a couple of butterflies were on the wing in the garden between clouds: a peacock and a comma.
5th: At least two commas were flying in the back garden. This is the same one I photographed yesterday.
6th: Same butterflies in garden.
7th: A cloudier day, ending in torrential rain. Took a cycle ride in the early afternoon, seeing just a few peacocks in local woodland. Comma still defending his favourite flowers in the garden.
14th: Cloudy weather since my last record, until today. My sister reported a brimstone in the garden in the morning and I saw many peacocks on an afternoon walk and later on a run through the villages.
16th: Mostly sunny in the early morning, though clouds building up. I took a cycle ride to local woods and heaths before lunch (local = near Woodbridge, Suffolk), seeing commas (actually, they were in the garden, before and after), brimstone (in the woods and the garden), peacocks and a couple of small tortoiseshells. No non-hibernators yet.
17th: My mother's funeral.
18th: Flew back to Switzerland.
19th: Day of Beau Soleil maths competition. Walked Minnie into school in morning - sunny but no butterflies. In afternoon, a few small tortoiseshells around in Villars. First wood white of the year seen as I walked home after the competition, at about 16h30. Then a walk in the woods, where several more wood whites, as well as small tortoiseshells, brimstones, my first green-veined white of the year and a couple of commas. Found these brimstone eggs.
20th: Hot and sunny all day - and my day off, apart from a single lesson in the evening. I got up relatively late and headed off to the Rhône Valley, arriving at my first site shortly before 11h00. Some spring species are now common to abundant - orange tip, small and green-veined whites, wood whites, Bath whites and holly blues. Others are in much shorter supply or not yet on the wing. So I saw just two southern grizzled skippers (this one is form intermedia), a handful of dingy skippers, no green-underside blues, no walls and no de Prunner’s ringlets. I visited two sites - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. My full species list was: swallowtail (a single individual), scarce swallowtail (three or four), small white (common), green-veined white (common), wood white (common), eastern Bath white (common), orange tip (very common), brimstone (common), Berger’s clouded yellow (quite common), Chapman’s blue (a single male), baton blue (a single male - and here), holly blue (common), green hairstreak (quite common - and here), small tortoiseshell (a few), large tortoiseshell (three, I think), Camberwell beauty (at least half a dozen at a single site), comma (several), peacock (a few), violet fritillary (locally common), Queen of Spain fritillary (quite a few), small heath (locally quite a few), speckled wood (a few), southern grizzled skipper (two), dingy skipper (a handful).
21st: I began at quite a high site in the Val d’Hérens, arriving at about 11h00. Very little was on the wing, despite the heat. Wood whites and orange tips were common. Other than that, I saw a few southern grizzled skippers, lots of scarce swallowtails, several peacocks, commas, large tortoiseshells and small tortoiseshells, the odd brimstone, a few small whites and green-veined whites, a handful of speckled woods, a small heath and a holly blue. Queens of Spain were reasonably common and I saw a few violet fritillaries - but no pearl-bordered yet. I expected to see Camberwell beauties zooming up and down the river but there were none. This is a site where Oberthür’s grizzled skipper and olive skipper fly but neither was in evidence today. In the afternoon I headed back down to the valley and along to the site I began at yesterday. There, I saw two de Prunner’s ringlets - my first for the year - and a probable rosy grizzled skipper. Other than that, nothing new: scarce swallowtail, small white, green-veined white, orange tip, wood white, brimstone, Berger’s clouded yellow, eastern Bath white, holly blue, Chapman’s blue, Queen of Spain, violet fritillary, comma, large tortoiseshell, small tortoiseshell, peacock, small heath, speckled wood, grizzled skipper. No green hairstreaks were flying. At the same site in the morning yesterday there were lots.
22nd: My first grizzled skipper of the year (malvae, rather than malvoides) in my local woods. At least one of the white-letter hairstreak eggs I rescued after the January storms and reattached to the wild elms has hatched successfully. I found the larva (and here and here) near the attached twig. This is the attached twig on 30th March. This is the same view, with the empty egg, on 19th April (I didn't find the larva that day, not having enough time to look properly). Here is a white admiral caterpillar near its hibernaculum. This one has not come out of its hibernaculum yet.
24th: The first violet fritillaries are on the wing up here in the mountains.
25th: I've found my first purple emperor caterpillars of the year: Willow and Faith. Both are fourth instar. I was beginning to fear I wouldn't find any ... Here is my first pearl-bordered fritillary of the year.
27th: I began, rather late in the morning, at a site in the Val d’Hérens. Last Saturday there was little flying there. Today, it was still relatively tardy but more was on the wing. I saw my first Provençal short-tailed blue of the year, followed by at least two Dukes of Burgundy defending a sunny bank beneath a cowslip meadow. No Oberthür’s grizzled skippers were flying but there were several grizzlies and a few dingy skippers too. Other species on the wing were scarce swallowtail, wood white, small and green-veined whites, orange tip, brimstone, holly blue, small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma, Queen of Spain, violet fritillary, small heath and speckled wood. This is a Nickerl’s fritillary site. I saw none while I was there, but after I had cycled back up to the main road (stopping to photograph this baton blue), just before beginning the descent to the valley, spotted a single Nickerl’s flying in the verge. I continued down to the valley, caught the train eastwards, and visited a second site in the afternoon. There, I soon saw my first rosy grizzled skippers of the year, as well as my first Glanville fritillaries, common blues, green-underside blues and mallow skippers. Other species flying were Chapman's blue, scarce swallowtail, violet fritillary, Queen of Spain, all the usual whites and orange tip, brimstone, Berger’s clouded yellow, a single green hairstreak, Camberwell beauty, small heath, de Prunner's ringlet and speckled wood. So far I have seen no walls!
28th: Visited a local site to look for short-tailed blue. When I arrived, there were no blues at all, of any species though it was beautiful weather. Eventually I saw a single Adonis blue - my first of the year. I also saw my first wall browns and sooty coppers (and here) of the year. Apart from that, little was flying - a few whites and orange tips and small heaths and a comma. I moved on to the Rhône Valley to see how advanced the bladder sennas were (for iolas blues). A few had flowers but mostly they are still all leaf. At that site I saw common blue, red underwing skipper (my first of the year), Provençal short-tailed blue, swallowtail and the usual whites. Moving on to another site not far away I found my first chequered blues (and here and here) and southern small whites (and here) of the year. Here, there were more walls and lots of orange tips. The skies were increasingly overcast and I headed home by early afternoon.
29th: A new purple emperor caterpillar: Drusilla. Faith is laid up for her next skin change.

May
3rd: I found a new purple emperor caterpillar today - Xander. Interestingly, he has just shed his skin, which is lying on the leaf by his head, and he is just over 1 cm long. That means he has just graduated into 3rd instar - implying in turn that he spent the winter as a second instar. This picture shows the discarded tail skin slightly better. Elsewhere in the woods, Willow is now laid up for ecdysis, I think into 5th instar! She is just over an inch long. Her neighbour, Faith, who is also over an inch long, looks as if she will lay up for ecdysis very soon.
4th: Willow has indeed laid up for her next skin change. She is over an inch long (note: she is strongly curved in that picture). Faith has not completed her transformation yet. After checking the purple emperor caterpillars I headed up the mountain to see how the habitats there were progressing. This picture of Minnie says it all ... There is no spring vegetation growth apart from crocuses, coltsfoot and marsh marigolds. Despite that, a few green hairstreaks were around. This one was very active but only ever landed on the snow (and here, and  here). This one kept to bushes by the side of the track. In the afternoon we visited a local site for short-tailed blues. There was remarkably little flying but in the end we saw two - this female (and here) and this male. Also flying were common blues and Chapman's blues.
5th: I began at the same site in the Val d'Hérens I visited on 27th April. It was a warm, sunny day and I hoped to see Osiris blues. I did - two in total - but didn't get any good photos as they were very active. This is the best I got. Other new species for the year at this site were safflower skipper and little blue. The full list here was: Dingy skipper, southern grizzled skipper, safflower skipper, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, small white, green-veined white, orange tip, wood white, clouded yellow, Berger’s clouded yellow, brimstone, little blue, Osiris blue, Provençal short-tailed blue (here with a little blue as a blur!!), green-underside blue, common blue, baton blue, green hairstreak, Duke of Burgundy (here is a Duchess), violet fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, Glanville fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, small tortoiseshell, large tortoiseshell, peacock, comma, small heath, speckled wood, wall, large wall. After this I moved off to a different site in the Rhône Valley, where cardinals and Iolas blues fly. Some years, cardinals are already on the wing by this time but I saw none today - unsurprisingly. I did see a single Iolas blue, which danced through the site without stopping. This Camberwell beauty kept me company for about an hour as I sat in the shade watching the world go by. Then suddenly it was joined by another - I am not certain which one was male and which one female. They immediately hit it off (and here and here) and disappeared to mate somewhere. I never saw either again!
6th: Pearl-bordered fritillaries flying in my local woods. I am now following six purple emperor caterpillars, of which I photographed five today. The sixth, Drusilla, has moved off her high leaf island, which she had destroyed by eating, and presumably found another. The other five are: Willow, Faith, Xander (and here), Principal Snyder (and here) and Cordelia.
8th: I still can't find Drusilla but am now following 8 purple emperor caterpillars. I photographed them all today - mostly in the evening, so the photos are rather bad - and put them into this composite.
9th: The first meadow fritillaries are flying in the local meadows. When I went for my lunctime walk they were flying but didn't stop for a photo. While I was cycling into school, this one (and here) did stop by the side of the road and I was able to photograph it on my iPhone.
11th: Morning trip to the valley to see if cardinals were flying yet. They weren't. I did see at least one male iolas blue (and here, and here) and perhaps two. I also saw my first turquoise blue (and here) and spotted fritillaries of the year. Here is an Adonis blue. I saw a Camberwell beauty at a site where I've not seen them before. This species seems to be doing particularly well at the moment. Unfortunately, I had to be home by lunchtime, so couldn't explore further afield.
12th: I am currently following 10 purple emperor caterpillars, having now abandoned any hope of relocating a further two, Drusilla and Cordelia. Of these, three - Faith, Willow and Principal Snyder are currently in 5th instar. Principal Flutie, who I thought had recently turned 5th, because he seemed to be trampling on his dead skin, is laid up for ecdysis.
16th: The weather has been very cold for the last few days, with no possibility of butterflies flying. As of this monring, Principal Flutie was still laid up for his next moult. Principal Snyder has been zooming all over his tree and has been difficult to find, but he seems to have settled down now. Xander is laid up for graduation into 4th instar and Mayor Wilkins is now 3rd instar. That photo was taken on 13th but he was still there this morning. Faith is probably a week away from wandering off to pupate now. Willow has disappeared - presumed eaten but not necessarily. The caterpillars are too spread out in the forest for me to check on them all every day, especially on school days.
17th: Little blue seen up in Huémoz.
18th: In the morning I headed up to a mountain dappled white population not far from Martigny. The foodplant was in full flower and I saw probably 4 individuals but apart from one, none of them stopped even a moment. This is the one that stopped (and here) to nectar on the foodplant. Other species seen on the same walk (along a hot, rather wild road, up to a cool, rather tame but beautiful meadow) included: swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, Berger's clouded yellow, small white, green-veined white, wood white, probably Bath white (but might possibly have been a large mountain dappled white), Adonis blue, Chapman's blue, common blue, Duke of Burgundy, speckled wood, Glanville fritillary, probably heath fritillary (but it didn't stop), Queen of Spain fritillary, red admiral and small tortoiseshell. I spent much of the time in rather barren territory looking just for the dappled whites. Cycling back down to the valley I saw two Apollos - my first for the year. We then zoomed along to my cardinal site to see if these were on the wing yet. They are. Here, here and here are some females and here and here two males. I saw four individuals within seconds of arriving at the site. Here and here are shots of a male Iolas blue who deigned to show me his upperside! I saw my first brown argus of the year at this same site.
19th: After getting up rather late, I set off for a low-altitude site in Valais to see if Provençal fritillary was on the wing yet. When I arrived, shortly after 11h00, the sun went in and for a long while I saw no butterflies at all. At some stage, the insects sensed the sun was about to reappear. This Adonis blue opened its wings, even though the sky was overcast, and these Ascalaphids were waiting, primed ... Then, for about 45 minutes, there was intermittent hazy sun and cloud, during which time several species flew: scarce swallowtail, wall, speckled wood, small heath, common blue, Adonis blue, wood white, small white, southern small white, green-veined white, Camberwell beauty and Queen of Spain. But then the cloud set in again and I decided to head higher to a different site - also one where Provençal fritillaries fly. There, despite rain on my arrival, the skies largely cleared and plenty flew. I saw several Apollos but only this one stopped, albeit briefly. Blues flying included common, Adonis and chequered. Walls were very common - definitely the commonest butterfly - and wood whites were the commonest white. Here is that same individual with Minnie in the picture ... I saw several Melitaea but all those that stopped were Glanville fritillaries and I suspect Provençal is not on the wing yet. It was a beautiful, warm and mostly sunny walk but the true summer species are saving themselves for later.
22nd: First chequered skipper of the year seen on my local patch.
25th: Thanks to traffic lights in Ollon I missed the train I hoped to catch and reached my first site near Geneva (that is, an hour’s cycle ride outside Geneva!) later than intended. Within a couple of minutes I had seen half a dozen black hairstreaks - presumably all males - none of which stopped anywhere within camerashot. Over the next hour I saw plenty more, of which just one stopped even a moment - and head-on! Other new species for the year at that site were black-veined white (very common), small copper, knapweed fritillary, heath fritillary and Oberthür’s grizzled skipper. It was an amazing day, with absolutely nothing stopping long enough for a picture! Also flying were pearl-bordered fritillary, Glanville fritillary, Adonis blue, common blue, brown argus, small heath, speckled wood, chequered skipper and (southern) grizzled skipper. No pearly heaths or marbled whites were on the wing yet - species I usually see on my black hairstreak trip. Nor were there any large coppers, another species I occasionally see there. Large coppers were, however, flying at my next site. I didn’t see any males but at least two different females were wandering over the meadow, occasionally stopping. This one settled next to my boot! Here, here and here are more pictures of the same female. I also saw at least two probable Reverdin’s blues. Both were males, and were engaged like male and female, as if looking to mate, but clearly this wasn’t going to happen.The one visible in this photo is a definite Reverdin's blue. The one that stopped afterwards was not obviously differentiable from idas blue (he actually looked more like idas) but I am counting him as Reverdin’s because I saw definite Reverdin’s later and from what I could see of the underside of the other, that one was also Reverdin’s. Also at that site were heath fritillaries, Glanville fritillaries, knapweed fritillaries and Provençal short-tailed blues. Moving on to a third site, I saw my first meadow browns of the year (here is one, glimpsed through foliage), soon followed by definite Reverdin’s blues. Often, my black hairstreak trip is just too late for these but today there were plenty about, including several in good condition. The only problem was, it is a nature reserve and dogs are banned. Thus, Minnie was in her backpack and my other backpack was on my front. Taking pictures was very difficult! Here is a male and here a female (I believe - though the dirty fringe suggests idas). This is also often a large copper site but I saw none today. I did see a very tatty sooty copper.
26th: Trip to a site in Vaud where black hairstreaks fly. As I arrived the skies clouded over but by extreme good luck I located this single black hairstreak enjoying the privet. My camera doesn't do well in poor light conditions and that was the best shot I got but it was very much better than yesterday's! New species for the year was pearly heath. This was not flying at one of its strongholds in Geneva yesterday but was very common today. The privet was also not in flower yesterday but strongly in flower today. So I think this site is more advanced than the Geneva sites. Other species seen included black-veined white, Adonis blue, common blue, sooty copper and small heath. The weather never really looked up, despite a very brief sunny spell. It rained a bit and remained largely overcast so after a relatively short time I headed home. Thunderstorms broke in Huémoz this evening.
28th: After a morning inside, working, I took a short trip to Valais in the afternoon. Several new species for the year were flying, including southern white admiral, marbled white, northern brown argus and mazarine blue. It was warm but often overcast and the southern white admirals were not posing. This is the only record shot I got, taken on full zoom. This marbled white, similarly, kept out of the camera's way! Safflower skippers are now very common here. I saw no rosy grizzlies, suggesting their first brood is over.
29th: First geranium argus (and here) seen today, on my local patch in Huémoz. This white admiral caterpillar gives an indication of the weather ...
30th: First large wall of the year photographed. I saw one recently but failed to record the day, so this counts as the year tick! Here is a mazarine blue in a local meadow, and here the same white admiral caterpillar as yesterday, photographed this evening. All but one of my 5th instar purple emperor caterpillars have now wandered off to pupate somewhere - and I haven't been able to locate them yet. I had hopes for finding the pupa of at least one of these three in the same tree (photographed a few days ago) because I thought they would stay in the tree, but all have left it. The one remaining caterpillar is Principal Flutie (that photograph was this evening). He will pupate within a week. I must keep my fingers crossed that he stays in his tree ...

June
1st: Up the mountain to look for violet coppers. It was mostly overcast but warm, and I found the species reasonably commonly, spread over a large area. Here is a male and here a female. Some males were already looking worn and others showed very little violet (and here). Here and here are two more shots of that first male and here and here another female. Little else was flying - no marsh fritillaries and no Titania's fritillaries. All I the violet copper site, apart from violet coppers, was little blue, green hairstreak, dingy skipper and a single chequered skipper. I saw a single northern wall as I cycled back along the track and a grizzled skipper at a nearby site.
2nd: Trip to a poplar admiral site in the Canton of Geneva. On 6th June 2015 I saw at least a dozen male poplar admirals here and thought it must be the world centre for the species. Despite several visits in 2016 and 2017 I haven’t seen a single poplar admiral since! I had my first try of 2018 today - and again failed to see any. In over four hours at the site, I saw a total of perhaps 20 white admirals (and here). On good days in the past I have seen literally thousands here - maybe tens of thousands - so it is possible (I hope) I am just a little too early this year. Other species included red admiral, comma and painted lady - my first of this latter species for the year, small white, green-veined white, black-veined white, wood white, brimstone, Adonis blue, Provençal short-tailed blue (I didn’t check for short-tailed because it flew off too soon), holly blue, black hairstreak (and here - a different individual) - my first for this site - large copper - also my first for this site - speckled wood, woodland brown (first for the year - locally half a dozen or so), meadow brown, small heath and grizzled skipper. This site is some thirty kilometres from my usual large copper sites. The species has become well established over a large region of the Canton de Genève.
7th: First local (Huémoz) meadow browns and gatekeepers, as well as my first ringlet of the year.
8th: The main target species for today was Provençal fritillary, which wasn’t flying the last time I set off to look for it. Today, despite 100% cloud cover almost the whole time, it was on the wing in good numbers, together with heath fritillary, knapweed fritillary, the first marbled fritillaries of the year, Queen of Spain and pearl-bordered fritillary. Here is another male Provençal fritillary and here a female, heavily egg-bound. I couldn’t get any undersides because of the weather - they only ever settled with their wings out - but the upperside of the Swiss subspecies is sufficient for identifying it. Also new for the year at this site were small skipper, large skipper, marbled skipper and great sooty satyr. Blues flying included Adonis, common, baton and northern brown argus. By far the commonest species were Apollo and black-veined white. Here is a male Apollo trying his luck with a female. It was doomed - she was already sporting a sphragis (close-up of the sphragis). Other species taking to the wing despite the weather were wall, speckled wood, meadow brown, ringlet, marbled white, comma, small tortoiseshell, painted lady, grizzled skipper and safflower skipper. I left that site in mid-afternoon and cycled down the hill to another site in the valley where Provençal fritillary usually fly, hoping to find Swiss Zephyr blue too. Surprisingly, there were no Provençal fritillaries there, though I saw several marbled fritillaries and one large fritillary - almost certainly Niobe, but it never stopped. I saw two Swiss Zephyr blues, both males. Southern white admirals were conspicuous here and I saw at least two living Camberwell beauties. In addition, I found the remains of another (and here), which must have been flying earlier in the day as all four wings were still close together. Nearby lay the wing of a scarce swallowtail. It is clear a bird had been picking off butterflies as they came down for minerals - I saw several pied wagtails along the path. A female Bath white was laying eggs by the track. Here is one of them. Full species list for the day: Scarce swallowtail, Apollo, Small white, green-veined white, wood white, Bath white, black-veined white, Berger’s clouded yellow, common blue, Adonis blue, baton blue, northern brown argus, small tortoiseshell, painted lady, comma, Queen of Spain, marbled fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, heath fritillary, knapweed fritillary, Provençal fritillary, (Niobe fritillary), Camberwell beauty, southern white admiral, meadow brown, ringlet, wall, large wall, speckled wood, great sooty satyr, grizzled skipper, safflower skipper, small skipper, large skipper, marbled skipper, dingy skipper.
10th: A mostly cloudy day with some sunny intervals. Heavy and oppressive. Near Geneva, no poplar admirals flew but plenty else was on the wing. Purple emperor (and here, with white admiral) was flying, as well as lesser purple (and here). I saw two purple and three lesser purple. White admirals are now abundant (and here, and here). Summer-brood large tortoiseshells out - seen here with white admirals (and here). Woodland browns are also very common now. I was mostly looking for admirals and emperors, but also noticed marbled fritillaries, at least one larger fritillary - probably dark green - heath fritillaries, meadow browns, speckled woods, ringlets and assorted whites, including lots of black-veined.
11th: Dark green fritillary seen in Huémoz. This is not the first large fritillary I have seen this year but it is the first to stop long enough to be identified.
15th: A trip to a site in the Jura Vaudois. New species for year were marsh fritillary, false heath fritillary, lesser marbled fritillary, woodland ringlet and almost certainly small pearl-bordered fritillary. Before visiting the main site I stopped in some woods where Duke of Burgundies fly. Virtually nothing was on the wing - perhaps a meadow brown - and the sun did not come out. Moving on to the main, wetland site, I found that rather small marsh fritillaries were locally common. Violet coppers were also about in reasonable numbers, some very worn but some quite fresh still (none posing for decent photos though!). There were a few sooty coppers but no other coppers. For the blues, I really only noticed Adonis and mazarine, but blues mostly appeared while I was in pursuit of other stuff. False heath fritillaries were common. I saw just one, distant lesser marbled fritillary, in a dense stand of meadowsweet. Other Nymphalids were comma, small tortoiseshell and red admiral. Apart from the woodland ringlets, which were quite common (here is a male, here a female and here an egg, which I saw being laid), Satyrids included small heath, meadow brown and ringlet. I only saw one skipper - a large skipper. A single brimstone represented the yellows and a few green-veined whites the whites. I’m quite confident there was at least one small pearl-bordered fritillary in the nature reserve but it only stopped once in the whole time I saw it, and it was facing directly towards me. I need to analyse the picture. This is a hooktail dragonfly, Onychogomphus forcipatus. No butterflies seen on the return journey to the train station.
16th: Niobe fritillary seen in Huémoz.
17th: Visited a site in the foothills of the Jura for sloe hairstreak, hoping to see females laying. On arrival, I saw my first great banded graylings of the year. Other common grassland species included meadow brown, large skipper, marbled white and pearly heath. Surprisingly, there were no blues at all. Once I reached the blackthorn areas, sloe hairstreaks were very common. Males were nectaring or just hanging around. Females were intent on laying - all over the place! I watched this female spend a very long time laying and expected to see an egg when she finally moved off. I did - but it was almost invisible to the naked eye, being covered covered in black-and-white hairs (and here). These are in fact hair-like scales, and although they apparently come off quite soon, they provide excellent camouflage for the newly laid egg. The tip of the female abdomen is black and white. Here, here and here are more photographs of females laying. I saw no blue-spot nor ilex hairstreaks. In May, I saw black hairstreaks here but there were none today. Other species flying included small heath, violet fritillary and marbled fritillary.
18th: First high brown fritillary of the year seen in Huémoz.
22nd: Trip along the Val d’Anniviers for Asian fritillary. These were around in good numbers, but I think I only saw males. Here, here and here are some more pictures. At times they were nectaring together and occasionally defended territories very close to one another, on neighbouring raspberry bushes or rhododendrons. From 11am until the time I left their site, after 15h30, they were constant companions. Other fritillaries flying were heath, false heath and pearl-bordered. Here is a very dark individual that I first took to be Titania’s but felt uncomfortable with this ID and decided it was a female pearl-bordered. The few, fleeting glimpses of its underside were not at all like Titania’s. As always at that site, the commonest butterfly was northern wall. Alpine heath was also very common and the commonest blue was little, closely followed by mazarine. Near stands of geraniums, geranium argus was easy to find. One or two male orange tips were roding - I didn’t see any females. I saw a couple of large blues, though only that one paused even a moment. Unexpectedly, a single green-underside blue was flying near where I left my bike. A little later in the year there will be dozens and dozens of large ringlets here. Today I saw two or three, as well as two or three blind ringlets. I saw exactly two alpine graylings (this is the other). For the skippers, dingy was the commonest, followed by chequered, followed by southern grizzled. I saw just a couple of alpine grizzled skippers. A little lower than the Asian fritillary site, a single, male scarce copper was nectaring on daisy flowers. Much lower still, when I had cycled almost to the valley, I stopped for a detour and found Adonis blues commonly, as well as Escher’s blue, lots of large skippers, meadow brown, Berger’s clouded yellow and moorland clouded yellow. This last didn’t stop but flew so close to me I can be confident of its identity. Also on the cycle ride down I found a road-kill southern white admiral. Apollos could be seen flying by the roadside. Full list for the day: Swallowtail, Apollo, small white, mountain green-veined white, wood white, Berger’s clouded yellow, moorland clouded yellow, orange tip, common blue, Escher’s blue, Adonis blue, little blue, mazarine blue, large blue, green-underside blue, geranium argus, scarce copper, heath fritillary, false heath fritillary, marsh fritillary, Asian fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, small tortoiseshell, red admiral, peacock, alpine heath, northern wall, alpine grayling, large ringlet, blind ringlet, meadow brown, southern grizzled skipper, alpine grizzled skipper, red-underwing skipper (at the site on the way down), dingy skipper, chequered skipper, large skipper.
23rd: First local silver-washed fritillaries.
25th: Set off in the afternoon to pick up ilex hairstreak (and here, and here) for the year. There were plenty on the wing - or more strictly, on the flowers. In particular, they seemed drawn to white melilot, though they were not easy too photograph on it because they were in constant motion, twisting and turning over the flowerheads. I had hoped to see purple-shot copper too, but none were flying. I did see a few small coppers. Two graylings were new for the year: grayling (semele) and rock grayling (hermione). Great sooty satyrs were very common, though almost entirely males still, it seemed. Other species seen were: large and small skippers, marbled skipper, scarce swallowtail, Apollo, small white, southern small white, green-veined white, wood white, black-veined white, brimstone, common blue, Adonis blue, holly blue, heath fritillary, Provençal fritillary, knapweed fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, marbled fritillary, comma, southern white admiral, meadow brown, dusky meadow brown, marbled white, great banded grayling.
26th: Up my local mountain in the afternoon clouded Apollos were flying. I found this female violet copper on the wing, far from my usual site for this species, and saw my first bright-eyed ringlets of the year. Apart from that, little was on the wing - some small whites, a few pearl-bordered fritillaries and some grizzled skippers. But it was quite late in the day and quite cool at high altitude.
27th: Lots of dark green and high brown fritillaries on the thistles on my local walk. First Arran browns of the year now flying.

July
1st: In the Val d'Hérens, new species for the year were chalkhill blue (and here) and purple-shot copper. I had hoped Lulworth skipper might be flying but I didn't see any. Great sooty satyrs are now very common, including females - seen here with an Apollo.
4th: Trip the Bernese Oberland for scarce and dusky large blues. Both were flying in extraordinary numbers. Within seconds of arriving at the site, at about 09h30, I had spotted two dusky large blues on heads of greater burnet, and on reaching my first scarce large blue spot immediately saw  more than a dozen of these. Males and females seemed to be in equal number, the males rather tattier though on average. I suspect it is peak season. Even at 09h30, the scarce large blues were reluctant to open their wings and I struggled to get any upperside shots. But when the clouds came it was a little easier. During the cloudy periods they sat with wings firmly shut, but for a short while after the sun came back, and before taking off again, they would open. Here, here, here and here are some more shots of scarce large, and here and here some more dusky large. A few violet coppers were still on the wing. I suspect this is the first picture ever taken of violet copper resting on dog (here is the slightly larger context)!! Other species flying included my first purple-edged coppers of the year, heath, false heath, Titania’s, lesser marbled, dark green and Niobe fritillaries, Arran brown, black-veined white, clouded Apollo, both swallowtails, ringlet, great sooty satyr and large wall. The only other blues I saw were mazarine - relatively common - and little. Strange not to see others, but then I wasn’t really looking, being focused on Phengaris (Maculinea). Cycling back afterwards, I saw several dusky large blues far from the site, in meadows with greater burnet along the roadside. Here is such a female, laying eggs.
7th: Trip to two sites south of the Simplon Pass to look for Erebia christi. The first site - where I have seen christi on two previous occasions - is extreme and it was impossible to do anything other than just scan for the butterfly. I saw no christi. There was actually rather little flying altogether - small numbers of large and almond-eyed ringlets and just one lesser mountain ringlet. No small mountain ringlets, suggesting it is too early - as I have always seen plenty of this when I have found christi. Other species flying included Apollo, clouded Apollo, heath fritillary, knapweed fritillary, scarce copper, Darwin’s heath and black-veined white. The second site, where a friend saw christi two years ago, was much more accessible, though it is likely the actual breeding sites that feed it are not. I also saw no christi here, but had very little time. Lots of large and almond-eyed ringlets were on the wing, as well as a single blind ringlet, and I had the impression that if I had waited long enough I might well have seen my target. I did see my first silver-studded blue of the season. I will devote a whole day to this site soon. On Monday I will be up again checking out further christi sites with the same friend.
8th: The local woods were alive with butterflies, including plenty of white-letter hairstreaks, lots and lots of silver-washed fritillaries (and other fritillaries - mostly marbled and high brown). The first purple emperor eggs have been laid. Here is a female, who might or might not have been responible for that egg a few days ago.
9th: Today was devoted to Erebia christi. I got up at 04h45 to be able to reach Sion at 06h54, where I met Vincent Baudraz. We set off for the Simplon and explored as many sites and potential sites as we could before the sun left the slopes. All morning we drew blanks, seeing lots of Erebia - medusa, euryale, montana, melampus, tyndarus - but no christi. Some of the sites we visited were relatively accessible, others pretty hairy, especially with a Jack Russell attached. After an equally fruitless lunch at a potential christi site we headed to the same site I briefly prospected on Saturday, and where Vincent had seen christi in the past. Finally, we hit the money! At 14h00, this female cruised along the track. Vincent spotted her, I netted her and we both photographed her. She didn’t hang around long for photos, soon heading back to the slopes to lay eggs - the condition of her wings suggests she has already spent time among the sheep’s fescue laying. A little later, we caught and photographed a second female, slightly smaller and with fewer forewing markings. If this is not Switzerland’s rarest butterfly, it is certainly the hardest to find and these two females were a total triumph. Vincent saw a probable male too, out of reach of his net. At the same site were our only two epiphron of the day and a single, rather worn, triaria. The full list of non-Erebia species for our christi sites and the walks to and from them: swallowtail, Apollo, clouded Apollo, small white, mountain green-veined white, Berger’s clouded yellow, mountain clouded yellow, wood white, little blue, large blue, holly blue, silver-studded blue, sooty copper, scarce copper, geranium argus, small tortoiseshell, red admiral, painted lady, comma, heath fritillary, knapweed fritillary, Titania's fritillary, false heath fritillary (abundant), Darwin’s heath, large wall, ringlet, northern wall (a single individual), southern grizzled skipper, dingy skipper, chequered skipper, large skipper, small/Essex skipper (I didn’t actually check any carefully) and a Pyrgus to be confirmed. Notable was this albino false heath fritillary (and here) - something I’ve never seen before. After the christi sites we visited a small site in Italy, where purple-shot copper was flying commonly, together with pearly heath, and a site north of the Simplon where a few Swiss Zephyr blues were flying, as well as lots of rock graylings, a fair number of Escher’s blue, small numbers of turquoise and chalkhill blue and two blue-spot hairstreaks. I was particularly pleased with this last, as it is something I hardly ever see, even though it is not officially rare here.
11th: I began the day at high sites in the Simplon, hoping for Boloria fritillaries and Cynthia's fritillary. It seems too early though - my usual favourite site was still snow-bound. The only Boloria flying was euphrosyne and the only Euphydryas was marsh fritillary (that one was large, and I thought at first it was a female Cynthia's fritillary). Mountain clouded yellow was on the wing in very small numbers but there were no moorland clouded yellows. Idas blue, little blue, glandon blue (here is a female) and cranberry blue (here is a female upperside) were all flying - again in small numbers. There was a chill wind and it was still morning, so this might have been a factor. Large ringlets, small mountain ringlets, a couple of Swiss brassy ringlets and a single mnestra ringlet represented the Erebia. In the afternoon I dropped down to Monday's best christi site, specifically to retrieve a plastic box I had inadvertently left. It was windy, blowing gusts, and difficult to catch the windblown butterflies, but I saw probably 4 christi in total, photographing this female (and here, and here for the underside). I had 99% confidence with at least one other sighting and very reasonably confident with another two. Small mountain ringlet was flying, though, as well as mnestra, pharte and melampus, so netted or landed insects were necessary. The commonest Erebia was euryale. Here is one perched on Minnie's water bowl. After that, alberganus was almost as common. Swallowtails, scarce coppers, purple-edged coppers and various blues including chalkhill were also around but as always at such locations I stayed focused on Erebia.
12th: Scarce swallowtail nectaring on Buddleia in my local region - a first for this far up the mountain. This lovely valesina silver-washed fritillary (and here) was also in the woods. As so often with this form, she kept mostly to the shade. Thistles were covered in fritillaries - mostly silver-washed but with some high brown among them.
14th: After aborting a trip for large heath yesterday, due to a cancelled train, I made the journey today. It was a long day on public transport, with a long walk to the site too, but in the end it was successful, with a single large heath appearing briefly just before I came home - and after the sun had gone. That is the only large heath I have seen in Switzerland! Other species flying included lesser marbled fritillary and Titania's fritillary, purple-edged copper, Essex skipper (and here), large skipper and lots of very faded meadow browns and ringlets. Several large fritillaries were flying, including dark green but probably also others - I didn't actually check.
17th: I did chores in the morning then set off in the afternoon to look for pale clouded yellows in seasonal clover fields where Berger's clouded yellow is not resident. The fields had been harvested in the last day or two, but one significant expanse remained and there I found plenty of pale clouded yellows, both males (the first picture also showed a male) and females. All were quite fresh. Here, here and here are shots of a female who had been laying eggs being pestered by a male. Clouded yellows were flying too.
18th: A somewhat unsuccessful trip to the high mountains near Zermatt for Warren's skipper. I have a site for this I visit most years - and have seen the butterfly every time I have been. Today, however, it proved particularly difficult, and although I think I probably did see a couple in total, I was not able to catch either and came back with no photos. New for the year were carline skipper and olive skipper - surprisingly, I hadn't seen olive skipper up until now. I am uncertain about the identity of this one (and here) - but suspect it is a small specimen of large grizzled skipper. It does not have the jizz of warrenensis. Other year ticks were silver-spotted skipper and Grisons fritillary (and here). As always, this trip was very hard work, on treacherous slopes, and I wasn't able to do much except look for my target species and try to stay upright! The species list, with one or two photos (and doubtless many omissions), was: Olive skipper, carline skipper, large grizzled skipper, silver-spotted skipper, small skipper, Essex skipper, swallowtail, Apollo, clouded Apollo, black-veined white, large white, small white, green-veined white, mountain clouded yellow, Escher’s blue, turquoise blue, Adonis blue, little blue, idas blue, silver-studded blue, spotted fritillary, knapweed fritillary, heath fritillary, Grisons fritillary, Niobe fritillary, dark green fritillary, small tortoiseshell, painted lady, almond-eyed ringlet, large ringlet, woodland ringlet, small mountain ringlet, lesser mountain ringlet, alpine grayling, small heath, alpine heath/darwiniana (didn’t look), large wall, northern wall, great sooty satyr, marbled white, meadow brown, dusky meadow brown.
20th: Trip to Aosta valley for Polyommatus humedasae (Piedmont anomalous blue). I had approximately an hour in Aosta itself before getting the bus to my site, so went looking for geranium bronzes. At first, it looked as if I was out of luck - the usual town square where I see them had no Pelargoniums at all - just a few dried up baskets of dead leaves. But I wandered further and found both the flowers and the butterfly in two different places - here (and here) is one of them. Then on to the humedasae site. There too, there was a problem. The habitat was completely closed off to walkers, with a sign suggesting it was a works site. Obviously it wasn’t - I could see almost all the habitat from various parts of my walk there - so I must imagine they were protecting the grassland in a drought summer. Anyway, I obeyed the instructions and kept out of the area. In the other direction the habitat was inappropriate, so I sat and waited by suitable flowers in case a wandering female humedasae should appear. One did (and here, and here), so I got photos of the species for 2018! Other new species for the year included woodland grayling (quite common, but I was focused on other things until it was too late and the clouds had come, so no good photos), Meleager's blue and damon blue (and here). This female southern white admiral spent a long time almost at my feet, hanging around under honeysuckle leaves ostensibly laying, but I didn’t find any eggs. Lots of great sooty satyrs around, often nectaring with marbled whites, and good numbers of dusky meadow brown. Other species seen included: large, small, green-veined and wood whites, Berger’s pale clouded yellow, clouded yellow, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, common blue, little blue, Queen of Spain, dark green fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, heath fritillary, knapweed fritillary, pearly heath, rock grayling, speckled wood, ringlet, soiuthern grizzled skipper, small skipper.
21st: Found my first purple emperor caterpillar of the new season in the local woods. Meet Peter Griffin (and here).
25th: Peter, the purple emperor caterpillar, has grown. I found two more caterpillars today: Lois (already 2nd instar) and Brian (1st instar).
26th: Trip to the Grisons to look for little fritillary (Melitaea asteria). This was a very long journey! I was up at 05h30 and arrived at the site at 13h45. I had to leave at 17h00 - but I imagined that would give me enough time to find the butterflies, given that I had a solid grid reference for them. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Most of the three hours were entirely overcast, with rain falling for some of the time. In the short periods of sun I saw plenty of shepherd's (and here) and mountain fritillaries (here is a rather strange shepherd's fritillary) and lots of eros and glandon blues - but no little fritillaries. In fact, I thought I did see one within minutes of arriving, but it zoomed past without stopping - and I can't count a brief flight view for a life-tick! There were plenty of mountain clouded yellows too. All in all, though, I spent a long time seeing nothing, in wind and rain, before another 7-hour bus and train journey to Aigle, followed by walking up the hill to Huémoz. I arrived home at 02h45!
31st: I visited my cardinal site in the morning, arriving at about 10h00. At first, I saw no cardinals at all. For nearly 45 minutes, Minnie sat in the shade I drank beer in the sun, watching silver-washed, high brown and heath fritillaries (including several valesina females) without seeing a single cardinal. Then at 10h45 the first male zoomed in. I was already on my way to a higher part of the site, where I proceeded to see a further half dozen or so (here, here, here and here), before returning to my first vantage point. By half past midday, male cardinals were zooming around conspicuously. Here is a video of one flying over the buddleia (pick him up a few seconds in, on the right of the picture, scaring some whites) and then turning round to fly right past me. The first female appeared at about 13h30, as usual. I had to move off then, but had waited to see at least one. I didn't get a picture of her. Other conspicuous butterflies were great sooty satyr, the first dryads, southern white admiral and Apollo. The other year-ticks I got were purple hairstreak - which was locally quite common - and long-tailed blue, which sadly never stopped in the heat of the day.

August
3rd: Up my local mountain, I saw my first manto ringlets of the year - both sexes, and now common, as well as my first common brassy ringlets of the year. Locally, a few water ringlets were flying and I saw a very few dewy ringlets. Other ringlets on the wing were lesser mountain, blind and Scotch argus. There were very few Boloria flying - a few shepherd's and mountain fritillaries and some very late pearl-bordered fritillaries, as well as a couple of Titania's. Dark green and Queen of Spain were the commonest fritillaries. I saw a single, female moorland clouded yellow but lots of mountain clouded yellows still. I think the good weather has meant the season up here has been short and active. No cranberry blues were still flying. There were silver-spotted skippers and a couple of clouded Apollos still around - and the second brood of swallowtail was hilltopping, as it always does.
11th: Much less activity now in my local woods. Silver-washed fritillaries are still common, as are most Satyrids, though the woodland browns have stopped flying. Here is Brian, the purple emperor caterpillar still second instar.
12th: Today was my last day before leaving Switzerland. Following the death of my mother in March, I am relocating to the UK to help my father. Initially, we were going to go high, but because of time constraints ended up going to one of our favourite spots in the Rhône Valley. We arrived early, before anything was really flying. Before long I saw my first dryad, closely followed by a wall. From then on, things began flying, though never reaching huge numbers. There followed, in order of seeing them: chalkhill blue (a few around, but not common), small white, green-veined white (both whites reasonably common), speckled wood, spotted fritillary (locally, lots, both male and female), Adonis blue, tree grayling - my first of the year and quite common - small heath, large white, turquoise blue (a tiny individual), lots of southern white admiral, clouded yellow, holly blue, great sooty satyr, marbled white, Provençal short-tailed blue, Chapman's blue, blue-spot hairstreak (my first for this site) and common blue. By the time we left, dryads were very common. Here, here and here are some pictures. On the whole, although it was a glorious day, rather little was flying. But Minnie and I enjoyed the walk and it was a good goodbye.

AUGUST 13TH - MOVE TO ENGLAND

14th-31st: Mixed weather in Suffolk, including a few sunny days and also much rain. My move to the UK seems to have ended the heatwave! The only new species for the year I have had so far - and am likely to get! - was gatekeeper. That photo was taken on 21st August. I saw a few before that date, including one on 14th, but have seen none since. It seems the flight season was very short this year. Other species seen have been meadow brown, speckled wood (now very common in Suffolk), common blue (and here - present in my local meadow as well as by the coast), small heath, small copper (also now present in my local meadow and by the coast), brown argus (and here), and small, green-veined and large whites.

September
2nd: Visited a local meadow/wood to look for willow emerald damselflies, a recent coloniser of Eastern England from the continent. Here, here and here are some females, the second picture showing the characteristic thoracic spur, and here and here some males.
4th: Several knot (and here) feeding with godwits on the mud of the river Deben.
5th: Spotted this ruff (and here, and here) on the Deben, feeding with godwits and redshanks. There were also a lot of greenshanks (and here), presumably passing through on passage.
6th - end Sept: The butterfly highlight for September was a single male clouded yellow on the coast on 26th. Apart from that, this very blue female common blue caught my attention on 24th. The only other species seen have been speckled wood, large, small and green-veined white, small copper, brown argus - still fresh on 16th, red admiral and peacock. Dragonflies seen during the month have been more willow emeralds (and here), common darter (and here), ruddy darter, southern hawker, migrant hawker, blue-tailed damselfly and common blue damselfly. Bird highlights have been an osprey (and here) on the Deben on 21st and this little egret having a bad hair day on 28th.

October
1st - 18th: Few butterflies around. Those I have seen are small white, speckled wood (now less common), red admiral and small copper. On 17th I saw the first winter birds - rather than passage migrants - on the Deben. These included wigeon, grey plover (and here), ringed plovers and dunlin. Here (and here, and here) is a little egret preening himself on 7th.
19th-31st: A few red admirals drifting around until the end of the month but precious little else flying. This small white was on the coast on 25th. I photographed it from a distance just in case it should be a vagrant southern small white! It wasn't ... This grey plover was on the Deben on 31st.

November
1st-7th: Still a few red admirals around when the sun shines but apart from a day or two the beginning of the month has been dominated by cold (first) and then rain. Here is a little egret, photographed fishing on the Deben on 3rd.
17th: At least two different red admiral females (and here) were laying eggs in the garden this morning. Here, here, here and here are four eggs I found, though at least some of these were not laid today. There were lots of harlequin ladybirds on the nettles (and here, here and here), including a harlequin ladybird larva, and several 7-spot ladybirds. I expect the harlequins at least feed on red admiral caterpillars ...

December