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YEAR LIST, 2014

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For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click: 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 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 2014 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
CHECKLIST FOR THE YEAR 2014
  1. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 8th January - Vaud
  2. Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 8th January - Valais
  3. Clouded yellow (Colias crocea) - 12th January - Valais
  4. Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 12th February - Valais
  5. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 20th February - Valais
  6. Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 20th February - Valais
  7. Peacock (Aglais io) - 22nd February - Valais
  8. Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 7th March - Valais
  9. Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 9th March - Valais
  10. Small white (Pieris rapae) - 11th March - Valais
  11. Eastern Bath white (Pontia edusa) - 14th March - Valais
  12. Southern small white (Pieris mannii) - 14th March - Valais
  13. Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) -18th March - North Italy
  14. Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) -18th March - North Italy
  15. Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) -18th March - North Italy
  16. Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) -18th March - North Italy
  17. Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis polychloros) -18th March - North Italy
  18. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 20th March - Valais
  19. Southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvoides) - 20th March - Valais
  20. Berger's clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 20th March - Valais
  21. Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 20th March - Valais
  22. Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - 20th March - Valais
  23. Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 20th March - Valais
  24. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 29th March - North Italy
  25. Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 29th March - North Italy
  26. Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 29th March - North Italy
  27. Chapman's blue (Polyommatus thersites)* - 1st April - Valais
  28. Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 1st April - Valais
  29. Violet fritillary (Boloria dia) - 1st April - Valais
  30. Green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis) - 1st April - Valais
  31. Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 16th April - Valais
  32. De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 16th April - Valais
  33. Baton blue (Scolitantides baton) - 16th April - Valais
  34. Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 16th April - Valais
  35. Mallow skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 16th April - Valais
  36. Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 16th April - Valais
  37. Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 16th April - Valais
  38. Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - 16th April - Valais
  39. Provençal short-tailed blue (Cupido alcetas) - 16th April - Valais
  40. Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 17th April - Jura
  41. Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 17th April - Jura
  42. Red-underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 17th April - Jura
  43. Map (Araschnia levana) - 17th April - Jura
  44. Sooty copper (Lycaena tityrus) - 17th April - Jura
  45. Pale clouded yellow (Colias hyale) - 17th April - Jura
  46. Pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) - 17th April - Jura
  47. Adonis blue (Lysandra bellargus) - 20th April - Valais
  48. Turquoise blue (Polyommatus dorylas) - 20th April - Valais
  49. Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 20th April - Valais
  50. Short-tailed blue (Cupdio argiades) - 23rd April - North Italy
  51. Meadow fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) - 24th April - Vaud
  52. Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) - 24th April - Vaud
  53. Oberthür's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 2nd May - Valais
  54. Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 4th May - Valais
  55. Cardinal (Argynnis pandora) - 4th May - Valais
  56. Violet copper (Lycaena helle) - 17th May - Vaud
  57. Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 19th May - Valais
  58. Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 19th May - Valais
  59. Large wall (Lasiommata maera) - 19th May - Valais
  60. Purple-shot copper (Lycaena alciphron) - 25th May - Valais
  61. Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 25th May - Valais
  62. False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 25th May - Valais
  63. Heath fritillary (Melitaea athalia) - 25th May - Valais
  64. Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 25th May - Valais
  65. Spotted fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 25th May - Valais
  66. Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 31st May - Geneva
  67. Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 31st May - Geneva
  68. Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 31st May - Geneva
  69. Black hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) - 31st May - Geneva
  70. Large copper (Lycaena dispar) - 31st May - Geneva
  71. Mazarine blue (Polyommatus semiargus) - 31st May - Geneva
  72. Reverdin's blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - 31st May - Geneva
  73. Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 2nd June - Vaud
  74. Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 2nd June - Valais
  75. Provençal fritillary (Melitaea deione) - 2nd June - Valais
  76. Southern white admiral (Limenitis reducta) - 2nd June - Valais
  77. Swiss zephyr blue (Plebejus trappi) - 2nd June - Valais
  78. Large blue (Phengaris arion) - 6th June - Valais
  79. Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 6th June - Valais
  80. Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 7th June - Valais
  81. Dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - 7th June - Valais
  82. Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 7th June - Valais
  83. Geranium argus (Eumedonia eumedon) - 7th June - Valais
  84. Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 7th June - Valais
  85. Amanda's blue (Polyommatus amandus) - 7th June - Valais
  86. White admiral (Limenitis camilla) - 13th June - Geneva
  87. Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 13th June - Geneva
  88. Lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) - 13th June - Geneva
  89. Poplar admiral (Limenitis populi) - 13th June - Geneva
  90. Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - 13th June - Geneva
  91. Ilex hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - 13th June - Geneva
  92. Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 14th June - Vaud
  93. Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 19th June - Vaud
  94. Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 20th June - Vaud
  95. Alpine heath (Coenonympha gardetta) - 20th June - Vaud
  96. Olive skipper (Pyrgus serratulae) - 20th June - Vaud
  97. Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) - 20th June - Vaud
  98. Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) - 20th June - Vaud
  99. Mountain green-veined white (Pieris bryoniae) - 20th June - Vaud
  100. Dewy ringlet (Erebia pandrose) - 21st June - Vaud
  101. Alpine argus Plebejus orbitulus) - 21st June - Vaud
  102. Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 21st June - Vaud
  103. High brown fritilary (Argynnis adippe) - 22nd June - Vaud
  104. Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis ino) - 22nd June - Vaud
  105. Eros blue (Polyommatus eros) - 26th June - Vaud
  106. Alcon blue (Phengaris alcon) - 26th June - Vaud
  107. Great banded grayling (Brintesia circe) - 27th June - Vaud
  108. Arran brown (Erebia ligea) - 27th June - Vaud
  109. Dryad (Minois dryas) - 3rd July - North Italy
  110. Large chequered skipper (Heteropterus morpheus) - 3rd July - North Italy
  111. Small skipper (Thymelicus slyvestris) - 3rd July - North Italy
  112. Scarce copper (Lycaena virgaureae) - 3rd July - North Italy
  113. Purple emperor - (Apatura iris) - 3rd July - North Italy
  114. Woodland grayling (Hipparchia fagi) - 3rd July - North Italy
  115. Hungarian glider (Neptis rivularis) - 3rd July - North Italy
  116. Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 3rd July - North Italy
  117. White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 5th July - Vaud
  118. Almond-eyed ringlet (Erebia alberganus) - 15th July - Valais
  119. Large ringlet (Erebia euryale) - 15th July - Valais
  120. Mnestra ringlet (Erebia mnestra) - 15th July - Valais
  121. Swiss brassy ringlet (Erebia tyndarus) - 15th July - Valais
  122. Chalkhill blue (Polyommatus coridon) - 15th July - Valais
  123. Purple-edged copper (Lycaena hippothoe) - 15th July - Valais
  124. Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 15th July - Valais
  125. Sudetan ringlet (Erebia sudetica) - 16th July - Bern
  126. Niobe fritillary (Argynnis niobe) - 16th July - Bern
  127. Marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 17th July - Valais
  128. Cranberry blue (Plebejus optilete) - 25th July - Valais
  129. Glandon blue (Plebejus glandon) - 25th July - Valais
  130. Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 25th July - Valais
  131. Moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno) - 25th July - Valais
  132. Escher's blue (Polyommatus escheri) - 25th July - Valais
  133. Mountain fritillary (Boloria napaea) - 25th July - Valais
  134. Dusky grizzled skipper (Pyrgus cacaliae) - 25th July - Valais
  135. Silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma) - 25th July - Valais
  136. Grisons fritillary (Melitaea varia) - 25th July - Valais
  137. Small mountain ringlet (Erebia epiphron) - 25th July - Valais
  138. Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 25th July - Valais
  139. Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 25th July - Valais
  140. Geranium bronze (Cacyreus marshalli) - 30th July - Italy
  141. Piedmont anomalous blue (Polyommatus humedasae) - 30th July - Italy
  142. Rock grayling (Hipparchia hermione) - 30th July - Italy
  143. Dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon) - 30th July - Italy
  144. Blue-spot hairstreak (Satyrium spini) - 30th July - Italy
  145. Meleager's blue (Meleageria daphnis) - 30th July - Italy
  146. Damon blue (Agrodiaetus damon) - 30th July - Italy
  147. Asian fritillary (Hypodryas intermedia) - 31st July - Valais
  148. Alpine grizzled skipper (Pyrgus andromedae) - 6th August - Valais
  149. Water ringlet (Erebia pronoe) - 8th August - Vaud
  150. Large grizzled skipper (Pyrgus alveus) - 8th August - Vaud
  151. Manto ringlet (Erebia manto) - 8th August - Vaud
  152. Brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae) - 28th August - Valais
  153. Shepherds' fritillary (Boloria pales) - 6th September - Valais
  154. Purple hairstreak (Favonius quercus) -13th September - Valais
  155. Tree grayling (Hipparchia statilinus) - 29th September - Valais
  156. Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 29th September - Valais
  157. Marbled ringlet (Erebia montana) - 5th October - Valais
* A female seen and photographed from the upperside only. I am not 100% she is thersites - she might be icarus. However, thersites is commoner at this site and is said to fly earlier in Valais.
Commentary
(Links in the commentary are to pictures of the particular butterflies referred to)

January
1st: The year began sunny and quite warm, so in the afternoon I headed to a local site where red admirals overwinter, to see if any were about. I might have been a little late in the day, but saw none. I did find a few brown hairstreak eggs in a nearby quarry.
8th: The last few days have been unseasonably mild. I checked the same site as last week, also in the early afternoon, and this time found a couple of red admirals flying.  I suspect if I had gone in the morning I would have seen more, as that is when they defend their territories - and a bit of a wind was blowing up this afternoon. Next, I headed further along the valley to see if any Queen of Spain fritillaries were on the wing. Although it was by now getting much too late for them to be defending the hotspots I did find this individual nectaring just before the sun dropped behind the clouds over the mountains. This is my earliest ever Queen of Spain (my previous earliest being on 27th January, 2008). I saw my latest ever Queen on 17th December last year, so this really is becoming a circumannual butterfly!
12th: A quick lunchtime walk produced Queen of Spain fritillaries in double figures in the valley. Here, here, here, here here and here are six different individuals, photographed at different sites along the way. The predominant nectar source was speedwell, which is growing in mats all around the vineyards. I also saw several red admirals (though the Queens chased most away before I could photograph them) and a single, male clouded yellow (and here).

February
1st: Sunny in the morning, turning cold by early afternoon. In the Rhône Valley, Queen of Spain fritillaries were flying, again in double figures - I think I saw 10. Most interestingly, I found one individual that was flying 20 days ago, on 12th January. Here he is on 12th January and here he is today, 1st February. Here, here and here are some different indivduals. This was the most worn indivdual seen today. I saw just one red admiral, cruising past one of my Queen sites, but no small tortoiseshells. Here is a lizard, skulking around on the wall, looking for tasty butterflies!
12th: Clear skies and a heavy frost in the valley, but by lunchtime the butterflies were up and about. They rarely settled, because of a cold, stiff breeze, but here is a small tortoiseshell (and another) - I saw about half a dozen of these in a short walk. I also saw about half a dozen Queen of Spain fritillaries - maybe more - again it was difficult to count because they rarely stopped. The third species on the wing was red admiral. Speedwell and storksbill are flowering all over the place and many other species of small nectar plant are out too, so the butterflies have plenty to feed on before the next wave of bad weather sends them back to bed for a bit.
20th: Further along the valley from the Queen site, two more species were enjoying the sunshine today: Brimstone (at least half a dozen males, vainly looking for nectar sources) and comma (just one). I also saw a single Queen, but no small tortoiseshells or red admirals.
22nd: Before the clouds came over and it got very cold, there were Queen of Spain fritillaries, small tortoiseshells, red admirals and a single peacock (which didn't stop) flying in the Valley today. I checked a bank where I often see Glanvile fritillary caterpillars later in the year, and sure enough, one of them was out and about. He was about 1 cm long.

March
6th: No new species today, but there was a real change in the air. Small tortoiseshells were flying in Huémoz and as I cycled down the hill in the afternoon I saw a brimstone and a peacock. In the valley, Queen of Spain fritillaries and small tortoiseshells were flying by the dozen, or even into three figures. Queens in particular were everywhere and I was very rarely out of sight of one. This female, like many others, was prospecting for laying sites on wild pansies. Many small tortoiseshells and Queens were nectaring on the mats of speedwell everywhere. Bulbocodium is in full flower and many small tortoiseshells were nectaring on these. I also saw two red admirals and a single clouded yellow.
7th: A warm day, and the start of a forecast spell of many days' warmth. In the afternoon I visited a site along the Rhône Valley some way to the east of where I was yesterday, looking for large tortoiseshells in particular. At this site there were very few nectar plants in flower, and generally fewer butterflies around than yesterday. Brimstones were common, small tortoiseshells very common and there were a number of Queen of Spain fritillaries on the wing, but other butterflies were out in just ones and twos. As well as two red admirals, I saw a single comma, a single peacock and a single large tortoiseshell - all highly mobile in the afternoon heat, so no possibilities for more than distant, proof photographs.
The sallow is just coming into blossom. The buds have broken on many trees but just one was covered in fully yellow catkins, attended by countless bees. The next few days will undoubtedly bring out many more butterflies.
9th: A hot day in Valais. I went for a large tortoiseshell hunt and in a short walk found about 10 (here is an upperside, another, and an underside). At the same site on 6th March I saw just one. There were loads of brimstones about, including one female, as well as small tortoiseshells, Queen of Spain fritillaries (and here), peacocks, and commas (and here). The sallow blossom had many small tortoiseshells and commas feeding together with all the bees. I saw a single green-veined white as I left the site, but only in flight.
11th: A quick trip to look for damselflies, but the site was too dry and none were flying. There were two large tortoiseshells (the same individual), plenty of small tortoiseshells, Queen of Spain fritillaries, brimstones and my first small white of the year. Lots of marsh frogs in what water there was. At another site, literally hundreds of Queen of Spain fritillaries were flying, some looking very worn now - I counted 20 or 30 in sight on many occasions. This one showed interesting colouration, and this one an interesting pattern. There were also small and large tortoiseshells, brimstones and a single comma - and probably a peacock. No grizzled skippers were flying yet.
14: Targets for the day were Eastern Bath white and grizzled skipper. The Eastern Bath whites are now on the wing - I saw probably half a dozen in total, motoring along tracks near the Rhône. No grizzled skippers, though, at several sites where they are usually precocious. Other butterflies flying were large tortoiseshell (quite a few), small tortoiseshell (very common), comma (common - here is one with a small tortoiseshell), Queen of Spain fritillary (abundant!), brimstone (quite a few males, no females today), peacock (a handful), small white (a handful), southern small white (a few), and green-veined white (a handful). I didn't take many pictures as I had limited time and visited two different parts of the valley. near Martigny, the Bulbocodium is largely over and now pasqueflowers grow on the slopes. I haven't yet identified this caterpillar (and here) wandering through the vineyards.
17th: I stayed at home most of the day, but large tortoiseshells, small tortoiseshells and brimstones were frequently visible passing the balcony, showing that things have now woken up properly even up here (1000m). Later, I cycled down to the nearby part of the valley, passing more of the same on the way, as well as small whites and a peacock. I was too late really to see anything much, but did photograph this large tortoiseshell basking in the aftenoon sun and this brown hairstreak egg.
18th: Last year, both the nettle tree butterfly sites I found in North Italy in 2011 were ploughed up, metalled over and fenced off. Today I prospected for new sites and struck lucky. I found a rather wild path, which will definitely not be ploughed up, where lots of nettle trees grow, and even though it is still early in the year I saw about 10 nettle tree butterflies. All their favourite trees grow south of the track, on a steep slope, so all my pictures were either directly into the sun or at ugly angles. Here, here and here are some more of them. Other new species for the year were holly blue (a single individual), green hairstreak (becoming common), small copper (two) and Camberwell beauty (a single individual, in flight). Large tortoiseshells were common, as were small tortoiseshells and brimstones. There were a few commas and a few green-veined whites and small whites. Red admirals were up and about. In Switzerland these are mostly visible in January or February and don't really survive the full winter. There were enough at this site in Italy for them to breed and keep the population going.
20th: Warm but windy in the Rhône Valley. Orange tips are now on the wing. I saw many today, males and females, but none stopped for more than a second or two, so no photos. Other new species for the year were: Berger's clouded yellow (just one), scarce swallowtail (a number around), speckled wood (just one), southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvoides - two or perhaps three seen), and wood white (just one). Apart from that, green hairstreaks were around in ones and twos, my first for Switzerland this year and a handful of holly blues were drifting along hedges, also my first for Switzerland. Other species were: large tortoiseshell (now very common), small tortoiseshell (also common), peacock (common), Queen of Spain fritillary (common), comma (common),Camberwell beauty (just one seen, in flight), small white (a few), green-veined white (a few), brimstone (common - males and females) and Eastern Bath white (now quite common). The sallow is in full bloom - it is all very springlike!
28th: After a period of cold and snow it is getting warmer again. Today I travelled back to Italy to get better pictures of nettle tree butterflies. Unfortunately, the weather did not oblige - the sky was mostly blue but clouds covered the sun almost the whole time I was there. Despite this I saw 19 species and got a few photos. Large tortoiseshells (and here and here) were very common - I must have seen over 100. They seemed to be everywhere. They are mostly looking rather worn now. Small tortoiseshells were much less frequent but I saw a few. I put up a lot of butterflies as I walked - they were skulking by or on the track, wings closed, mostly invisible! These included a lot of nettle tree butterflies. Whenever the sun did come out these immediately flew around the nettle trees but the rest of the time they just flew into hiding. Here and here are a two more rather poor pictures. The other common butterfly was green hairstreak, which was flying in dozens. Here is a little ménage à trois that broke up when a quatrième joined it. Other species flying were: swallowtail (three seen in total - none stopped), chequered blue (a few - it is not common yet), wall (just one - only seen in flight), red admiral (just one), Camberwell beauty (I put up two, roosting invisibly near the track, and both flew away!), comma (quite a few), Queen of Spain fritillary, brimstone (quite common), small white (a few), green-veined white (a few), wood white (just one),  orange tip (a few), eastern Bath white (just one), small copper (just a few), southern grizzled skipper (two).
31st: A short trip in the afternoon to a local part of the valley, to see if violet fritillaries or green-underside blues were flying there yet. Neither was but I saw holly blues, small and green-veined whites, brimstones (male and female), orange tips (and here, with the female in rejection pose, and here), commas, red admirals, small tortoiseshells, a couple of scarce swallowtails and a single swallowtail (as I cycled back). The brown hairstreak eggs there are still waiting for the bushes to green up.

April
An afternoon trip to the Valley, arriving at about 15h00. Despite the hour, a hazy sky and a fair breeze, 23 species were flying. These included four new for the year. The first I am taking to be a female Chapman's blue. She was off before I had a look at the underside and I cannot be certain she is not a common blue. However, Chapman's is commoner at this site and is said to fly earlier in Valais. Last autumn, Chapman's was very common here and common was only occasional. The other new species were violet fritillary (and here - I saw half a dozen in total), dingy skipper (again, about half a dozen) and green-underside blue (only that one settled, breifly, but I think I saw more - it was not easy to tell as there were many holly blues about). The other species flying were grizzled skipper, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, Bath white (and here, and here), wood white, orange tip, brimstone, Berger's clouded yellow, small white, green-veined white, green hairstreak, Queen of Spain fritillary, large tortoiseshell (here and here two more individuals from the same field, also very tatty, particularly in the hindwing) small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma, Camberwell beauty and speckled wood.
16th: Back from ten days in Suffolk, which I shall write up shortly. Today I took a trip to two sites in the Rhône Valley to see how the season was progressing. I was very pleased to see lots of rosy grizzled skippers, spread over quite an extended area. They were certainly more numerous than I have previously seen them. Here, here and here are some more photos. De Prunner's ringlets were out in force too, but only at one of the sites. Here and here are a couple more pictures. Other species seen today were: swallowtail (several - the one in that picture was being a bit of a bully to the scarce swallowtails!), scarce swallowtail (common), small white (common), green-veined white (common), southern small white (a few), wood white (common), clouded yellow (two fresh males seen), Berger's clouded yellow (becoming common), brimstone (both males and females), orange tip (very common), Bath white (very common), green hairstreak (very common), small copper (a handful), common blue (a few), Chapman's blue (becoming common), baton blue (several - here is a female and here another male), green-underside blue (quite a few), holly blue (common), Provençal short-tailed blue (two or three males - here is one with  more of a tail), large tortoiseshell (a few - this is past its peak), small tortoiseshell (a few), peacock (common), comma (common), Camberwell beauty (none at one site, numerous at the other - here, here and here are some more individuals), Queen of Spain fritillary (common), violet fritillary (several), Glanville fritillary (common along one sunny track but I was running for the next train so could not stop to get good photos), wall (now very common), speckled wood (numerous in shady parts of both walks), small heath (common in the grassy areas), grizzled skipper (not numerous, but several seen), dingy skipper (quite common), mallow skipper (just one seen), chequered skipper (a surprise early sighting!).
17th: I headed north this morning to a site in the Jura where I saw good numbers of map butterflies last August, in the hope of seeing some spring individuals. I didn't expect to see very much else but was pleasantly surprised. On arriving at the site I immediately saw a little blue - my first of the year. Small heaths were flying too, suggesting the Jura was keeping pace with the Alps. Very quickly, I found my first map. I then climbed up to where I had seen females checking out the nettles last summer and saw a second individual, but this one proved more elusive, spending much time in the trees and a little in the nettles (without laying). Returning to the first spot I saw several more - here, here and here are three different individuals. These were my first spring brood maps for over 30 years, so very exciting! Other species flying were grizzled skipper (quite common by the time I left), red-underwing skipper (began flying early - quite common), dingy skipper (common), small white (a few), brimstone (by the afternoon, quite common), orange tip (common), pale clouded yellow (at least two seen - I did not confirm any Berger's though they do fly at this site), wood white (common), swallowtail (just one, I think), common blue (very common by the time I left - none at all seen in the morning), sooty copper (quite common), comma (several), pearl-bordered fritillary (at least one, possibly two), peacock (common), Glanville fritillary (several, including at least one very dark individual, reminiscent of false heath fritillary), wall (a handful) and speckled wood (locally common). I saw a single blue that clearly was not common but could not tell from the very brief sighting, in bright sunlight, whether it was Adonis or turquoise, both of which I know to fly at the site. I think it was a very early turquoise blue. Everything began flying very late in the day by comparison with the Rhône Valley and I had to leave while it was all really kicking off. Nevertheless, a very good day.
20th: Easter day. I spent the morning playing the piano for church but zoomed off in the afternoon, in a chilly wind but warm sun, to see what was flying in the valley. My first stop was a local short-tailed blue site, but no short-tails were flying. I saw a few holly blues, green-underside blues, common blues and Chapman's blues then headed further east. There, despite the cold wind, I saw swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, large white (first of the year), small white, green-veined white, orange tip, eastern Bath white, wood white, brimstone, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, green hairstreak, little blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, green-underside blue, holly blue, turquoise blue (new for the year), Adonis blue, comma, peacock, Queen of Spain fritillary, Glanville fritillary, violet fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, small heath, de Prunner's ringlet, speckled wood, wall, southern grizzled skipper, rosy grizzled skipper (and here) and dingy skipper. On the way home I stopped off at the cardinal site to look for caterpillars. I found only this Queen of Spain fritillary caterpillar (and  here). By this time the day was cloudy and cold.
23rd: A morning trip to Italy as I am getting a new dog tomorrow and Italy trips might not be possible for a while! The day began sunny but clouded over by early afternoon. It was notable that many of the hibernators were now over or in very small numbers. I saw no large tortoiseshells, where these were abundant a month ago, nor small tortoiseshells and only a handful of nettle tree butterflies. The only common hibernators were brimstones, with just a few commas about. Chequered blues and baton blues were common, as were sooty coppers and small coppers, while green hairstreaks and green-underside blues were present in smaller numbers. Chequered skippers were on the increase and I saw a few southern grizzled skippers and dingy skippers too. Other species flying were scarce swallowtail, swallowtail, small heath, speckled wood (and here) and wall, with small whites, green-veined whites, orange tips and wood whites all common. On rough ground near Domodossola sooty coppers were very common in the gloom (here and here are females) and there were a few short-tailed blues too (and here), my first of the season. Back in Switzerland I called in at a Camberwell beauty site on the way home. It was sunny when I arrived but soon clouded over and I was able to photograph a few Camberwell beauties, including this one and this one.
24th: I cycled to the valley in the morning to pick up some things for the dog, which was to arrive later in the day, and on my way home popped into a meadow site in the mountains, near where I used to live. Meadow fritillaries were flying, and I saw my first Duke of Burgundy of the year. Minnie, the 2-year-old Jack Russell I am adopting, arrived later in the afternoon. I will now have to train her to go butterfly-watching!

May
1st: The weather has been cold and wet recently, with snow not far above my altitude. This afternoon I checked on the local brown hairstreak eggs, which had begun hatching by the time I returned from the UK and of which as many as are going to hatch  are probably now out. Here is a hatched egg next to a parasitised egg. I have looked for larvae a few times recently but they have probably been tucked away in the still furled leaves. Today a single brown hairstreak caterpillar was at large. Here and here are two more pictures. The larva is still small - perhaps 3 mm - and I suspect it is second instar.
2nd: Went to a site in Valais with Markus, a visiting student from Munich. Despite the cloud and often rain we (I say 'we' - he actually found most of them!) managed to findroosting  butterflies, caterpillars and eggs everywhere, including a dozen or more green-underside blues, a Provençal short-tailed blue, a baton blue, two common blues, two wood whites, two Glanville fritillaries, several Oberthür's grizzled skippers (and here), two white admiral caterpillars (and here, and here) and some blue-spot hairstreak eggs (and here, parasitised, and here).
3rd: I located a second brown hairstreak caterpillar on my local patch. This picture shows its size.
4th: I began the day at a southern white admiral site to look for larvae (here is another). At the same site were many hibernators, including comma, peacock, brimstone and large tortoiseshell, and a host of other species, including my first safflower skippers of the year. The full list was: scarce swallowtail, small white, green-veined white, orange tip, wood white, eastern Bath white, green hairstreak, common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue, baton blue, turquoise blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, little blue, holly blue, Queen of Spain, Glanville fritillary (abundant!), small heath, wall and de Prunner's ringlet. But I left in a hurry, alerted by Matt Rowlings to a cardinal he had seen near the colony I discovered last year. Two cycle rides and a train journey later I found four cardinals (three females and a male), even though it was quite late in the day! Here and here are two of the females, here a female underside and here a male upperside. This is wonderful news - the colony is thriving! Other species at that site included Camberwell beauty, pearl-bordered fritillary, chequered blue and southern small white.
6th: An afternoon walk with the dog around the local forests produced four white admiral larvae (and here, here, here, and here) and, very surprisingly, two purple emperor caterpillars (and here). This was surprising because their main sallows were cut down last year and these two were both on a young, isolated sallow, well away from where I used to find them. I named this pair Vespasian and Titus. Despite the overcast weather, pearl-bordered fritillaries were flying, as well as wood whites, commas, dingy skippers, speckled woods and a couple of peacocks.
7th: Elsewhere in the forest (on a rainy walk) I found a third purple emperor caterpillar this afternoon (and here, and here). I have named him Domitian. Here is Vespasian and here a poor photo of Titus, who is still laid up for ecdysis. I expect him to have achieved the next instar by tomorrow. In the evening I checked my two brown hairstreak cateripillars (and here) were still fine. There are doubtless more there but I have yet to find them.
8th: I photographed six different purple emperor caterpillars on my afternoon walk with Minnie today. They are: Hostilian and Quintillus, Sextus, Domitian, Vespasian and Titus (who is still laid up for a skin change).
9th: Two more purple emperor caterpillars to add to the six: Septimus and Octavian. Here are Domitian, Hostilian and another picture of Quintillus and Hostilian together. Titus still hasn't shed his skin.
17th: I have spent the last week of mostly cold and often very wet weather keeping track of my various caterpillars, as well as training Minnie for butterfly-watching! Yesterday we did a long (about 18km), local forest walk, and though it was cold the sun shone, bringing out orange tips, small and green-veined whites, brimstones, wood whites, little blues, common blues, pearl-bordered fritillaries, dingy skippers and chequered skippers. Today we went up the mountain instead. Here are the conditions at 2000m (and here). Just before the snowline little blues, small tortoiseshells, green hairstreaks and dingy skippers were flying. Then we visited a local violet copper site. The vegetation looked nowhere near advanced enough for them to be flying - there were almost no aconite-leaved buttercups in flower, for example - but as it turned out we quickly found about half a dozen. Here, here and here are three different individuals.
19th: A trip to the valley, mainly to check for cardinals but also to look for Iolas blues, Provençal fritillaries and Swiss zephyr blues. It was mostly cloudy and often very windy, but there were sunny spells in the morning keeping the temperature up. I saw a total of probably four cardinals, including two seen in the air together, at two sites. The first three were just a couple of hundred metres away from where I saw my very first one, in 2005. This male cardinal was the only one I saw at the second site. I also saw probably four Iolas blues. Only this one, a male, stopped briefly for a record shot. The first Apollos of the year were flying in the vineyards - here is a distant shot of one of them. Other species flying on my morning walk included safflower skipper, southern grizzled skipper, red-underwing skipper, dingy skipper, scarce swallowtail, small white, southern small white, green-veined white, brimstone, orange tip, Berger's clouded yellow, green hairstreak, common blue, Chapman's blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, green-underside blue, holly blue, baton blue, chequered blue, Camberwell beauty, Queen of Spain fritillary, Glanville fritillary, comma, speckled wood, wall and large wall. By the time I moved further east, to look for Provençal fritillaries and the zephyr blues, cloud covered the sky completely and it was quite cold - I saw no more butterflies apart from a roosting common blue and the odd wood white. 
20th-22nd: I've stayed local, walking Minnie in the forest. Of nine purple emperor caterpillars found this year, only three remain - the others presumed eaten but possibly just gone wandering and I can't find them. Of those left, the most advanced is Hostilian, who completed the change to the fifth and final instar (and here) on 19th May. Here he is on 21st and here on 22nd. His neighbour, Quintillus, disappeared the day after he laid up for his final ecdysis, either nudged off by Hostilian or taken by a bird. Novus is the next most advanced, currently laid up for the skin change to 5th instar. Baby Sextus is currently laid up for skin change into 4th instar, thus almost exactly an instar behind Novus. I've also been keeping an eye on white admiral caterpillars. Here is one immediately after his transition to final instar and here is his discarded skin. Deliberate searches for white-letter hairstreak caterpillars have been in vain but I came across one quite by chance, crossing this forest stream on 21st. Here and here are pictures of him on the rock in the water. I think he must have gone wandering after his tree was felled or damaged as there has been a lot of felling in the woods. I transferred him to a wych elm tree, leaving him on the underside of an entire leaf (and here). When I revisited the spot on 22nd, he was nowhere to be seen but the formerly entire leaf now showed the characteristic feeding signs of white-letter hairstreak. Finally, I have also been looking for brown hairstreak caterpillars. Here is one (and here) on my local sloe bushes, on 20th. It is still only about 4mm long. Pearl-bordered fritillaries are now very common in the forest and there are also plenty of brimstones, orange tips, small and green-veined whites, a few Berger's clouded yellows (presumed), dingy skippers, chequered skippers, Provençal short-tailed blues, small tortoiseshells and commas (I've doubtless missed some species) despite the frequently cloudy and sometimes stormy weather. Large walls are now regular. The woods are full of chamois at the moment.
24th: During a local walk for caterpillars I found this Camberwell beauty. I would love it if this species bred  here. Here, here and here are purple emperor caterpillars (Novus, with the bent horn, Hostilian and Sextus respectively. Novus and Hostilian are in 5th instar while Sextus has only recently gone into 4th instar). This white admiral caterpillar was right out in the sun, while this one, which I have been watching for a while, was deep in the shade.
25th: Sun in the morning, so I visited a site off the Rhône Valley. New species for the year were black-veined white, heath fritillary, false heath fritillary, spotted fritillary and Osiris blue. It was still cool when I arived and little flew before 10h30, but over the following couple of hours many things took to the wing, including many Apollo (and here), scarce swallowtail, small white, green-veined white, wood white, orange tip, Berger's clouded yellow, little blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, green-underside blue (and here), common blue, Adonis blue, green hairstreak, purple-shot copper (and here), sooty copper, Duke of Burgundy, small tortoiseshell, peacock, violet fritillary, Glanville fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, small heath, wall, speckled wood, southern grizzled skipper, safflower skipper and dingy skipper. These are blue-spot hairstreak eggs - but I couldn't find any caterpillars on the newly unfurled leaves. When it clouded over in the afternoon I took Minnie to look for lady's slipper orchids. Here is another shot, and here another. Other orchids seen today included military (in the morning), bird's nest and greater butterfly.
26th: Some local picures from in the rain! Novus, Hostilian, Sextus, Minnie, a white admiral caterpillar and a man orchid.
27th: Hostilian, Novus, Sextus - all in the rain.
28th: A week ago I found a white-letter hairstreak caterpillar on a rock in a stream. I relocated him to an elm sapling and subsequently looked for him in vain. Today, I found him - preparing to pupate under a leaf at the end of an upper branch (and here).
29th: Here is a marbled white caterpillar (and here), crossing the road in Huémoz this morning. Some more caterpillars from my afternoon dog walk: Hostilian, Novus, Sextus, the white-letter hairstreak and a mature white admiral. There was some sun in the morning but I found this chequered skipper sitting out in the rain.
30th: More rain, so some local caterpillars. First the three purple emperors - the only three remaining out of a total of nine found this year: Hostilian (and here), Novus, Sextus. Next, three different white admiral caterpillars: here, here and here. The white-letter hairstreak caterpillar was in the same condition as yesterday, so I didn't disturb it. Despite the rain, this wall was active and as yesterday this chequered skipper was also braving the weather.
31st: Spent the day cycling between several sites in the Canton de Genève. One target was black hairstreak. This was on the wing, but not posing for decent shots! Apart from that close-up, where the butterfly kept disappearing the wrong side of the leaves, I just got a few record shots from a distance. There was an amazing explosion of large coppers (and here, and here)! Most were fresh males, like those ones but one or two were more worn (and here - though I think this one might have encountered a mower). Here is Minnie in-shot with one! I say 'explosion' - in fact, I saw a minimum of just 5 different indivduals (maybe rather more). But that is quite special for Switzerland. Other new species for the year today were pearly heath, brown argus, meadow brown, mazarine blue and Reverdin's blue. Other species seen included black-veined white, wood white, small white, green-veined white, brimstone (several apparently fresh males), Berger's clouded yellow, green hairstreak, small copper, sooty copper, green-underside blue, little blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, Adonis blue, common blue, violet fritillary, heath fritillary, meadow fritillary, Glanville fritillary, almost certainly high brown fritillary (though as it didn't stop I won't count this - I coudn't confirm the ID), comma, small tortoiseshell, small heath and grizzled skipper. I did find a rather large Pyrgus skipper that looks very like cirsii. Because I didn't have my net and it didn't offer its underside to view before buzzing off, I couldn't confirm this. The species is believed extinct in the region - but only very recently, with records as late as 2006. Orchids in flower included bee orchid and late spider orchid.

June
2nd: Warm but mostly overcast in the Rhône Valley. I went looking for Provençal fritillary and Swiss Zephyr blue (and here) but saw plenty else besides, despite the cloud. The fritillaries didn't fly until well into the afternoon, but then I saw probably half a dozen very active, very fresh males. This is the Swiss subspecies, berisalii, very different from elsewhere in Europe. Here is the distinctive underside and here a picture of Minnie examining one with me. Minnie managed to get herself into plenty of other pictures too, including Camberwell beauty (there were still quite a lot of these about), southern white admiral (new for the year and all pristine - here is an underside without Minnie), Apollo (here is a female, without Minnie) and Swiss zephyr blue. Orange tips and commas were still flying. Other species included scarce swallowtail, small white, southern small white, green-veined white, black-veined white, wood white, purple-shot copper, small copper, Provençal short-tailed blue, common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue, wall, large wall, De Prunner's Ringlet, Queen of Spain fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary and dingy skipper. Before we left for the valley we saw a marbled white in Huémoz, our first of the year. Not a great number of butterflies, but given the weather, a satisfying day.
6th: I worked in the morning and visited the valley in the late afternoon, mainly to check for iolas blues and cardinals. Arriving a little late, I saw no cardinals - too cloudy at the first site and just too late in the day at the second. But iolas blues were flying in reasonable numbers. I also saw my first idas blues and large blues of the year. This was at the western end of the valley, where Provençal fritillary has only recently returned (it seems) so I was glad to find this male. Heath fritillary was also flying. I saw a single de Prunner's ringlet.
7th: Today's target was mountain dappled white, but at my usual early site for this species it seems it is already over. The foodplant was growing in abundance and the sun was shining but not a single mountain dappled white flew. This was a bit of a disappointment but there were some year firsts to make up for it, including a couple of dark green fritillaries, several Essex skippers, several geranium arguses, a northern brown argus, a few ringlets and at least one male Amanda's blue.
8th: Hostilian moved from his seat leaf last night - and indeed right out of his sapling - and is currently preparing to pupate on a sycamore leaf. He spent some time in much the same place, going up and down, probably laying down his silk base.
In the afternoon I had a huge surprise - a female cardinal in my home village of Huémoz, just 200m from my house! This is the first cardinal record for the canton of Vaud since 1905, before which there have historically been only two more records.
9th: Hostilian is settled and beginning the pupation process. Here he is in the afternoon and here in the evening. 
10th: Hostilian has pupated (and here)! He is the first purple emperor pupa I have ever seen that was not on a sallow leaf!
13th: Today's target was poplar admiral, which I hoped to find near Geneva. I was pleased to see two females, one of which touched down briefly for me to snatch a quick photo. Both were in the vicinity of aspen trees. But butterfly of the day, without a doubt, was not poplar admiral but white admiral, which was flying by the thousand or perhaps tens of thousands. Here, here, here, here, here and here are some photos and here is a video of them. They were flying in this kind of density throughout the woods. Also new for the year were woodland brown (which you can also see in the second white admiral photo, above), silver-washed fritillary, lesser purple emperor (a single male that we put up in passing) and ilex hairstreak (I saw one disappear into a tree and snatched this poor ID shot). Fresh hutchinsoni commas were flying and I saw my first summer large tortoiseshell of the year.
14th: Hostilian is looking fine (and here, and here). Novus is now preparing to pupate. He is on the underside of a sallow leaf higher up his tree and showing the characteristic signs of the last stages of larval life. Baby sextus is almost completely grown up now. The white-letter hairstreak pupa is still unpredated. I have looked in vain for local white admiral pupae but did today find another, very young caterpillar. Among the adult butterflies seen today were my first local woodland brown of the season and my first northern wall of the season. Here is a meadow brown in the woods.
15th: I checked the purple emperor caterpillars/pupae in the evening. Sextus is looking very fine. He is in mid-fifth instar. Novus, high up his sallow, will pupate tonight. Hostilian is still fit and healthy under his sycamore leaf.
19th: Novus spent the last four days inverted on the underside of a sallow leaf and finally pupated last night. Here he is yesterday and here (and here) this morning. His wonky horn has been retained as a slightly shorter horn in the pupa. Hostilian, sadly, has been eaten by something. Here is all that remains of him. Did a gentle local walk with my parents in the afternoon. Silver-studded blues were common in some of the meadows and verges.
20th: Took my parents on a local upland walk. A bright-eyed ringlet, my first for the year, had got trapped in the tram, so I let it out of the window - too intent on freeing it to remember to take a photo! It was mostly bright and despite a cool breeze there were already clusters of little blues gathering at mud before midday. Idas blues were among them in smaller numbers and there were a few silver-studded blues too. Other new species for the year included marsh fritillary, olive skipper, mountain green-veined white and at least half a dozen clouded Apollos. Minnie met a few friends and we had lunch overlooking the lake (my parents with Minnie).
21st: Went up to a local high point with my father. Several swallowtails were hilltopping and I saw my first dewy ringlets, alpine argus and alpine graylings of the year. In fact, I think that was my first Alpine grayling on my local patch, so I was pleased with that. Mountain clouded yellow and the upland Boloria species are not flying yet.
22nd: Another upland walk with my parents. Again, there was little time for butterflying but I was pleased to see several clouded Apollos and noted that bright-eyed ringlets were quite common. Here is an alpine heath from that walk. Orange tips are still common and rather fresh-looking at these high altitudes. I walked home via a lesser marbled fritillary site, where I saw several males as the rain began to fall. Here is a high brown fritillary lurking in the grass, wondering whether to stay out or go to roost. A storm was brewing so I hope he went to roost.
26th: I took my parents on their longest and hardest walk of the holiday! I had to play the mountain guide, so had little time for butterflies, but was pleased to see my first Eros blues of the year, as well as many other upland species, including plenty of mountain green-veined white and a few Osiris blues. I also managed to nip off while they were having a drink and find some mountain alcon blues (Phengaris alcon rebeli). This is a female ovipositing and this shows the same female spreading her wings.
27th: Minnie and I accompanied my parents to the airport then took a local walk on our return. Great banded graylings are now flying locally and I also saw a white admiral and an Arran brown in the woods.
29th: A very full couple of days prevented any butterflying but I kept tabs on Sextus and Novus. Sextus ate his leaf and moved off to pupate somewhere - not on his sallow sapling, unfortunately, and so far he remains unlocatable. Novus seems to be fine and should emerge within a week. The white-letter hairstreak pupa seems still to be alive, stuck to a dead leaf fragment attached to a dead twig by a few strands of silk (and here and here)!
30th: It poured all morning but brightened in the afternoon. Immediately, butterflies began to fly. I took Minnie for a woodland walk, enjoying the abundance of fresh woodland browns (and here), Arran browns, and other Satyrids (ringlets, meadow browns, large walls, marbled whites - and great banded graylings along the village paths). White admirals are well on the wing locally now and there are plenty of high brown fritillaries cruising the woods, as well as marbled fitillaries and a few straggling pearl-bordered fritillaries. Last night's storms had thrown the white-letter hairstreak pupa onto the upperside of a leaf, in the full glare of the sun, where it must have been for a couple of hours before I moved the leaves to put it in the shade. This is an individual I rescued as a caterpillar from a forest stream and put in the nearest elm tree. So I might continue my patronage and rescue it tomorrow, so it can complete its transformation in the shade of my balcony. White-letter hairstreaks are common locally and I have seen them in my garden, so it could fly free when it emerges.

July 
3rd: Day trip to Italy. I popped Minnie in her special backpack and cycled her uphill (much harder going with a dog on your back!) to two different sites, the targets being large chequered skipper, Hungarian glider and summer brood nettle-tree butterfly (despite what some books say, this species is double-brooded, with a short-lived summer generation in June and July, giving rise to the hibernating generation in August). The first site was one I had found earlier in the year (where nettle-tree butterflies were flying) and I had earmarked as being good for large chequered skipper. I was right. They were bobbing around cheerfully in quite good numbers. Here is a male, with a meadow brown in the background. This is a female and this is another male, in fact taken later in the day at a different site. Altogether I found large chequered skippers at three widely separated sites - so that is good news. Dryads were flying commonly wherever there was long grass - my first of the year. Other species seen before reaching the Hungarian glider site were sooty coppers, a single scarce copper, chequered blues, baton blues, common blues, brimstones, Berger's clouded yellows, swallowtails, small whites, green-veined whites, black-veined whites, my first small skippers of the year, loads and loads of large skippers, small heaths, meadow browns, ringlets, speckled woods, lots of commas, silver-washed fritillaries (including this valesina female), dark green fritillaries, high brown fritillaries, heath fritillaries and doubtless others I've forgotten to mention. I was being rather single-minded as I haven't seen large chequered skippers properly for some years. At one point I thought I saw a woodland grayling, then found one (a female) killed on the road (this species loves to sit around on tarmac and often perishes because of this habit). I picked her up and took it home (so am counting the first sighting in my year list - I don't normally count butterflies found dead!). For the record, as this is a tricky species to separate from rock grayling, here are the upperside, underside, wing length and inner margin length of the butterfly (measurements in centimetres), photographed on my scanner. In the event, gliders were rather thin on the ground at their site. I saw probably four, including three flying up and down the same little patch of foodplant, never stopping even a moment in the hour I stood watching them. But it was lovely to see them. Perhaps I should have got there slightly earlier in the day. Minnie encountered her first purple emperor, and my first (adult) of the year. Here and here are close-ups of him. At the same site were purple-shot coppers, my first knapweed fritillaries of the year and a single large chequered skipper. I also saw two nettle-tree butterflies taking minerals from the road. On the way back I stopped at my original nettle-tree site of 2012, which was completely dug up and closed off for works but which is now open again. It will grow back and the nettle trees themselves were not affected, so at the moment it is actually a lovely place to see them. I was delighted to watch a female laying eggs. I also saw a single, male large chequered skipper there.
5th: I looked for white-letter hairstreaks in my local woods and in the end saw just one, flitting around near the top of a tree.
6th-14th: A period of almost constant rain, ending on the morning of 14th (but resuming again in the evening!). In the afternoon of 14th, as the sun came out, butterflies began almost immediately to fly. In the woods I found this purple emperor lurking in the shade of rocks and as I approached he flew out and landed on me (and here). Later on the same walk, I saw another high in the trees and possibly a third, being chased by the second, though I saw that very briefly. I took Minnie home, then returned to the woods to search for pupae but found none, just seeing this fourth purple emperor (a male) near where I had watched the caterpillars earlier in the year.
15th: I set off a little late this morning (because I first left without Minnie's lead) to look for Erebia christi beyond the Simplon. I didn't really expect to find it and in the event didn't find it - this is a little late in the season, immediately after prolonged rains and in an even-numbered year. I was surprised to see very few Erebia altogether - mostly almond-eyed ringlet, with some large ringlets, a single Swiss brassy ringlet, plenty of Scotch argus at lower altitudes, a single Mnestra ringlet and a single mountain ringlet at some distance - which could have been christi, of course, but I doubt it! Other new species for the year were chalkhill blue, purple-edged copper, Titania's fritillary, great sooty satyr and Darwin's heath (which no longer counts as a full species). I didn't have as much time as usual because of my late start, and spent over two-and-a-half hours standing at a single spot watching for christi - so I took almost no photgraphs today.
16th: I got off successfully this morning, heading to Grindelwald to meet a couple of friends and look for Erebia sudetica. This was much easier to find than christi and the terrain was better for Minnie, too! The first sudetica we found could fly but had crumpled wings. I suspect that like several deformed butterflies we saw today it had waited during the seemingly endless rains and been forced to emerge in suboptimal conditions. Here is another (very weakly marked) and here a third, that I netted and examined in the hand for confirmation. This fourth individual didn't need to be netted! He came willingly to my friend's camera and backpack, then even when moved preferred my finger to the grass. In total we saw half a dozen confirmed sudetica. The other common Erebia was bright-eyed. Here is a couple, lurking in the grass. Other species seen on a day of mixed cloud and sun included large skipper, small skipper, Essex skipper, dingy skipper, Apollo, large white, small white, green-veined white, black-veined white, wood white, pale clouded yellow (I netted one and it seemed to be pale clouded - and I saw no confirmed Berger's - there were huge quantities of clover in many of the meadows), orange tip, little blue, large blue, mazarine blue, turquoise blue, silver-studded blue, chalkhill blue, sooty copper, purple-edged copper, small tortoiseshell, heath fritillary, false heath fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, dark green fritillary, Niobe fritillary, Titania's fritillary, meadow brown, large wall, alpine heath and small heath.
17th: A sunny day. In the afternoon I cycled down to the valley with Minnie and visited the cardinal site. We didn't get there till about 14h30 but there was plenty of activity. At least three males and three females were enjoying the buddleia bushes. The males were intent upon world domination and hardly ever paused - I know there were at least three because at one point three were in the air together very close to me. The females were more passive, peacefully nectaring and ingoring the attentions of passing silver-washed and Niobe fritillaries. Here is one of the females (and here) and here a different one, that only settled further away. This species is now clearly established as a breeding butterfly in the Rhône Valley.
25th: July has been dominated by rain and cloud. Today I got out and up to a mountain pass in Valais but despite sun for some of the trip rather little flew. New species for the year were silver-spotted skipper, dusky grizzled skipper, mountain clouded yellow, moorland clouded yellow, cranberry blue, glandon blue, Escher's blue, mountain fritillary, Grisons fritillary (and here, a female), small mountain ringlet, lesser mountain ringlet and blind ringlet. Numbers of all these butterflies were low, as they were in general. I suspect the cold and rain has taken its toll. Other species flying were grizzled skipper, small skipper, small white, mazarine blue, idas blue, (mountain) alcon blue, little blue, Eros blue, marsh fritillary, alpine heath (mostly of the form darwiniana) and large ringlet.
27th: I stayed local, the cloud and rain having returned. But there were sunny spells during the day and a few butterflies - mainly browns were on the wing. I found my first purple emperor eggs of the year. This one is already some days old. In contrast, this one was probably laid today. It completely lacks any maroon band.
28th: Yesterday's freshly laid egg has coloured up. I also found another egg near it with a similarly recent colouring, suggesting it was also laid yesterday. I also found a fourth egg. This white-letter hairstreak shows the kind of weather butterflies are being forced to fly in! This female Scotch argus was out and about in the same weather.
29th: A fifth purple emperor egg, freshly laid.
30th: Total cloud and gloom in Switzerland but a slightly better forecast for North Italy, so I set off for the Aosta Valley with a friend to look for the Piedmont anomalous blue. On the way we had time to spend in Aosta so we had a quick search for geranium bronze, finding both an adult and some eggs (credit to him for those!). At the anomalous blue site many species were flying. Best of all, but actually quite common, were the anomalous blues, of course. Here, here, here and here are some female undersides, here is a female ovipositing, here and here female uppersides and here a poor shot of a male upperside. Both woodland graylings and rock graylings were flying - generally easy to tell apart but not always. Other species on the wing were: Apollo, scarce swallowtail (seen by Markus but not me), small white, green-veined white, wood white, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, baton blue, blue-spot hairstreak, Chapman's blue, Escher's blue, chalkhill blue, common blue, Adonis blue, damon blue, Meleager's blue, heath fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, knapweed fritillary, spotted fritillary, high brown fritillary, marbled fritillary (another species I didn't consciously see but Markus recorded), southern white admiral, great sooty satyr, large ringlet, speckled wood, wall, small heath, dusky meadow brown, meadow brown, marbled white, pearly heath, marbled skipper, rosy grizzled skipper (probably - I didn't see the underside), safflower skipper, large skipper, Essex skipper, Lulworth skipper. I didn't take that many photos because I was concentrating on the Piedmont anomalous blues but I will doubtless revisit the site soon - it was an excellent day.
31st: As a bit of a long-shot, I visited an Asian fritillary site to see if that was still flying. It was - I saw two or perhaps three individuals in total, all in flight. Very little else was flying at the site. There were thousands of large ringlets (and here, and here and here) and a few other Erebia, including blind ringlets, lesser mountain ringlets and marbled ringlets. Other species included: mountain green-veined white, black-veined white, small white, little blue, cranberry blue, mazarine blue, sooty copper, scarce copper, Titania's fritillary, heath fritillary, false heath fritillary (and here), Niobe fitillary, large wall, dingy skipper and chequered skipper. In the evening I checked the purple emperor eggs and found that one was approaching hatching, with the head of the caterpillar inside clearly visible at the top.

August
1st: No sun today, but I checked the purple emperor eggs again and discovered that two are almost ready to hatch. I checked at intervals throughout the day and none did hatch, but it cannot be long now. Here is one of the eggs and here the other.
 
Sincere apologies to regulars of this diary! August, like July, was thoroughly wet and I did very little butterfly hunting beyond my daily check on caterpillars in the woods. Even so, various events caught up with me and I wasn't able to keep this diary up to date. Over the next few days I will attempt to rectify this, even though it is likely my 2015 season will begin before I finish.

September

October

November

December