2011 was a fantastic year for the immigration of moths into the UK but, interestingly, was a pretty poor year for butterfly migrants. Like many migrant moths the Humming-bird Hawk-moth had a great year, and more were recorded in than ever before! This is thanks to the thousands of people who continued to support our online survey during the year.
Over 10,200 reports were received in total during 2011 - a big increase on the c.4,000 submitted in 2010 but still below the 15,000+ high in 2009. Many thanks to everyone who sent in a sighting in 2011!
It was the best year that has ever been recorded for 'Hummers' here. 9652 reports of this incredible insect were submitted during 2011 by over 8,800 different people. This is nearly three times as many as in 2010 and almost five times as many as in 2009!
Humming-bird Hawk-moths were seen right across Britain and Ireland from the Isles of Scilly in the south to Orkney in the north, but there was a clear southerly and easterly bias (see map at 10km x 10km grid square resolution, right).
Typically, late summer is the prime time for Humming-bird Hawk-moth sightings in the UK, but 2011 was different. Most sightings were in July and Sept, with June and October close behind. There were peaks in the number of sightings at the start of July and at the end of September/beginning of October. Perhaps not surprisingly August was relatively poor for sightings, as the weather was pretty awful.
In stark contrast, the Painted Lady butterfly had a very poor year. Only 611 sightings were submitted during the year by 539 people, even fewer than the 630 reports received in 2010.
There was a promising number of Painted Lady sightings during the record-breaking warm April 2011, but then numbers tailed off and few were reported in the crucial period at the end of May/beginning of June. The number of Painted Ladies arriving into Britain and Ireland at this time of year seems to determine whether it will be a bumper Painted Lady year or not.
Sightings picked up a bit in July, but many people only saw their first Painted Lady of the year in August or September, if they saw any at all.
The map (left) shows the distribution of Painted Ladies recorded by the online survey during 2011.
Thanks again to everyone who took part in the 2011 survey. The survey continues during 2012 - will the Humming-bird Hawk-moth increase yet again (for the fourth year running) and will it be a boom year for the Painted Lady? Please continue to log all your sightings of both these incredible, inter-continental insects.