2009 has been the year of the Painted Lady butterflies, after unusually favourable breeding conditions in North Africa triggered a remarkable wave of migration that saw millions arrive in Britain. So it’s appropriate that this year a niggling mystery regarding this species has finally been solved. After breeding, do these butterflies attempt to survive the British winter, or do they migrate southwards?
With a huge response from the public, Butterfly Conservation have been monitoring the movements of Painted Ladies all year and have received numerous reports of the butterflies heading out to sea off the south coast of Britain and arriving in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Richard Fox of Butterfly Conservation:
This is exactly the evidence needed to lay this enduring mystery to rest. Painted Ladies do return southwards from Britain in the autumn enabling the species to continue its breeding cycle during the winter months.