This is a Marbled White butterfly (Melanargia galathea) and until two weeks ago I’d never seen one before in my life.
Don’t they look like those butterfly splot paintings we used to do as kids?
Despite being quite obviously black and white in colour, this butterfly is classified as part of the Brown Family and that is what I am seeing them with, in the fields where I walk Sadie.
Indeed, this year there are impressive numbers of Browns emerging, particularly Ringlets, mixed in with Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. The Brown family butterflies seems to be on the increase generally.
So I don’t know whether it is an especially good year for Marbled Whites or whether I’ve just been more observant, but I’ve gone from seeing and IDing just the one a fortnight ago, to encountering dozens on a daily basis. From what I’ve read about Marbled Whites they are not found in much of eastern England, so possibly I am seeing a change in their range occurring?
When I first spotted these butterflies they were in continuous flight, flitting low down in the rough grass areas of the newly planted Silver Jubilee Wood. I despaired of getting a picture to show. However, as more Marbled Whites have appeared in the unimproved meadows near the river and since the thistles and knapweed have started to flower, the butterflies are more settled, pausing to feed and mate.
I was showing the butterflies to a friend when she spotted this mating pair deep in the grass. Sadly my camera battery died on me shortly after, but not before I managed to take a shot of one resting on my arm:
Have you seen a Marbled White before?