Butterflies on Crook Peak
For those of you who were out exploring the Mendip Hills this summer, you will have noticed that Crook Peak has been a fantastic place to see butterflies. The numbers of these fluttering flitting insects have been at a record high for our volunteer recorder this year, reaching 399 butterflies over the course of one survey.
We take part in butterfly surveys which are completed using a line transect. This is a set walk, and butterflies are recorded if they are seen within 5 meters of the path. The data collected is sent to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) which is used to assess how butterflies are doing on a national scale. This is done weekly over summer months to monitor trends.
When walking the slopes of Crook, Wavering Down and Cross Plain, you pass through the woodland, scrub, grassland and heath. This variety of habitat means a huge diversity of butterflies can be encountered. From the dappled orange wings of the silver washed fritillary gliding through the broken light of a woodland glade, to the mottled monochrome a marbled white flitting low across the open ground to a thistle or one of this year’s numerous painted ladies determinedly powering along the ridge. Each habitat creates their own community of wildlife species and the opportunity to thrive.
This is the reason the hills are managed as a mosaic of habitats, where open areas are long side tussocks of bramble, gorse and bracken. This provides a diverse range of homes for wildlife and ensures the greatest variety of butterflies can thrive there.
As we move into winter, the butterfly numbers will dip, with most surviving the winter as eggs, caterpillar or chrysalis. You may see those butterfly species that hibernate as adults into November or later. Red admirals, peacocks and brimstones braving the cold to find shelter in which to wait for the warming sun of spring.