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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.
  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

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

    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.

    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.

    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!