Marsh Fritillary Butterfly at Taynish NNR

One of the outstanding species to see at Taynish NRR is the Marsh Fritillary butterfly. The marsh and meadow habitats found at the southern end of the peninsula provide a home for this sun loving flutterer, which can only be seen for a few short weeks between the end of May and early July.

Marsh Fritillary butterfly

Marsh Fritillary butterfly

The population of this butterfly naturally varies greatly over time. In some years there are literally dozens to be seen in fluttering over the meadows whilst in other years only a few individuals can be found. Every year we carry out monitoring of the population to see how they are doing and this year the numbers have been encouraging. After a few bad years the numbers are on the up. The graph below shows the fluctuations over the years.

Graph showing the fluctuations in population of Marsh Fritillary butterflies at Taynish

Graph showing the fluctuations in population of Marsh Fritillary butterflies at Taynish

At this time of year the Marsh Fritillary larvae can be seen in a protective web on their selected foodplant, Devil’s Bit Scabious.

Devil's Bit Scabious with Marsh Fritillary Larval Food Webs

Devil’s Bit Scabious with Marsh Fritillary Larval Food Webs

Marsh Fritillary Larval Food Web

Marsh Fritillary Larval Food Web

Marsh Fritillary Larval Food Web Close -Up

Marsh Fritillary Larval Food Web Close -Up

This flower flourishes is short grassy meadows, so to keep the vegetation in check we have small herd of cattle that lives at Taynish all year round. We don’t want to overgraze the meadows so the cattle are only let onto the key areas for a few short weeks each year.

The Taynish cattle

The Taynish cattle

If you get the chance pop down to Taynish and have a look for the Marsh Fritillary larval webs which should be around until late September.

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