A butterfly, which depends on oak trees for its survival, has been recorded in South Lanarkshire for the first time since 1845.
The Purple Hairstreak, a small butterfly with tell-tale purple colouring on their black upper wings, seems to be increasing in distribution. Mostly found in England and Wales, there has been a recent increase in sightings across parts of Scotland and the first recording to be made in 175 years in South Lanarkshire is an exciting find.
Tam Stewart, volunteer butterfly recorder for the charity Butterfly Conservation Scotland for South Lanarkshire and Glasgow City said: “A discussion with a friend about our historical records prompted me to search for Purple Hairstreak, at South Haugh in Hamilton. It was a delight to find, not just one, but two sites, one within the Glasgow City boundary and one within South Lanarkshire.
“It was a wonderful feeling to enter this brand-new record for the area after 175 years. This year has given us a tantalising glimpse of a few individuals and who knows, there are no doubt many other colonies to be found where there are oaks.”
It's not always straight forward to spot and record these interesting butterflies as adults remain largely in the canopy of oak trees where their main food source is honeydew (sugar-rich liquid secreted by insects feeding on plant sap). It is possible to find them wherever oaks occur, in woods, hedgerows and parks, including urban areas.
Tom Prescott, Senior Conservation Officer for Butterfly Conservation Scotland said: “We’re very excited by Tam’s sighting and look forward to monitoring more closely this interesting species which seems to be increasing it’s populations across Scotland. Whether this is a result of changing weather conditions or increased awareness, we don’t know yet, but it certainly is excellent news that this species, is doing so well in Scotland.”