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Latest news

Details of unusual or unseasonal sightings are especially welcome for inclusion on this page, although any contributions are welcome. Please send your contributions to contact@highland-butterflies.org.uk.

Highland Branch welcomes contributions not just from Highland and Moray, but from the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Items from previous years have been archived, but can still be accessed by clicking the links below:
| Jan - Jun 2008 | Jul - Aug 2008 | Sep - Nov 2008 | Jan - June 2009 | July - Nov 2009 | Feb - June 2010 | Jul - Dec 2010 | Jan - June 2011 | July - Dec 2011 | Jan - June 2012 | July - Sep 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022



Elephant Hawk-moths have been unusually numerous at two sites in VC 105 this year. In the last three years the whole VC yielded 6, 3 and 0 respectively. 2019 has produced 35 with a VC record of 23 in one trap from Jim and Sheila Henderson's garden in Laide. Surprisingly, the caterpillar found in Lloyd and Chris Gudgeons's garden in Shieldaig on 1 September is the first record of a larva for the VC. 

Elephant Hawk-moth


A garden in Aultbea has been host to some special moths this summer. In May and June the Aubretias in the garden regularly attracted up to three Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoths. These nationally scarce moths are a rare sight in VC105, with 15 records in the last 37 years. This only came to light recently when the gardener shared a splendid video with Barry Blake. 

The night of 24 August provided the 14th record of Lunar Underwing for VC 105 all the other records are from the south of the VC.

Lunar Underwing


A couple of years ago Wendy Anderson found an interesting moth in her Culloden garden, feeding on ripe bananas, it was recorded as a Copper Underwing agg as all the identifying features weren't apparent in photos.

Wendy carried on putting out ripe bananas during the flight season in 2018 and this year, and was rewarded this year with another moth.  The moth was captured this time and with assistance from Mike Taylor, Roy Leverton and Mark Cubitt, the identifying features needed for a positive identification were found and it was determined to be a Copper Underwing rather than a Svenson's Copper Underwing.

This isn't only a first for VC96, it's a first for north Scotland, until now, Copper Underwing were only found south of the Central Belt in Scotland, so this is a major expansion north.  Mark Cubitt said that until ten years ago, only Svenson's Copper Underwing was found in Scotland but since then there has been a major influx of Copper Underwing which may now be the more common of the two within Southern Scotland and is the one that may see the greatest expansion to its range.

If anyone else is lucky enough to get one, it should be retained as it will need careful examination by someone who knows what to look for to determine which of the two it is.  Wendy's moth will be released unharmed shortly.

Thanks to Mike Taylor for the photo below.

Copper Underwing


Given the endangered status of the Anomalous, Barry Blake was pleasantly surprised to catch six at one site in the Poolewe area on the night of 20th August, despite poor conditions.

The Anomalous


Barry Blake reports that Judith Bullivant found only the 2nd VC105 record of Slender Brindle in her Lochalsh garden.  The only other record was from the same general area in 2016.  Photo by Judith Bullivant.

Slender Brindle


Bob Turner and I saw a total of 55 Painted Ladies, some in our Aviemore garden, mostly on a short stretch of the Speyside Way just south of Grantown-on-Spey where we also saw our first Scotch Argus of the year.

Scotch Argus


Andy Williams saw over 100 Painted Ladies (below top) at Rhue, north-west of Ullapool, nectaring on Thistles.  There were good numbers of Dark Green Fritillaries (below, bottom left) in the Ulapool area and a single Grayling (below, bottom right) in the dune system at Mungasdale.

Painted Lady

Dark Green Fritillary Grayling


Barry Blake saw around 23 Painted Lady butterflies on a bush in his Gairloch garden.


Given the temperature last night it was not surprising that Inverewe Gardens and Estate provided Barry Blake with 63 species and 360+ moths. More interesting was the occurrence of four Green Pugs in one trap.  This species has been recorded eight times in the last ten years in VC 105, but always as singles.

Barry reports that it was good for butterflies in Gairloch too, with good numbers of newly emerged Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals alongside the very tired looking Painted Ladies.

Green Pug


Hilary Swift found a Painted Lady butterfly egg-laying at Blacksboat near Marypark.


Pete Moore saw a total of 12 species of butterfly whilst walking in Glentromie equalling his previous best total in a day.  This included Red Admirals at the top of a 640M hill, the other species were Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Meadow Brown, Large Heath, Small Heath, Common Blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Green-veined White and Northern Brown Argus.


Pete Gordon saw 4 Red Admirals at the summit cairn on Ben Macdui, 1309M.

Red Admiral


On this rare warm and sunny weekend day, Hilary and I checked out an area of river shingle near Tomintoul in the hope of seeing Small Blue or Dingy Skipper. Unfortunately we didn't see either but we clocked up eight butterfly species, namely Green-veined White, Small Heath, Small Copper (I reckon this is the most beautiful Scottish butterfly), Painted Lady, Northern Brown Argus (two freshly emerged photo of one below), Orange-tip (eggs and adult), Small Tortoiseshell (adult and larvae) and Common Blue (first of the year for us).

And with three Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoths, the butterflies didn't get it all their own way.

Pete Moore



Andy Williams saw his first Six-spot Burnet moths and Small Heath butterflies of the year near Ullapool.

Six-spot Burnet Small Heath


Dean MacAskill saw seven Painted Lady butterflies at Dornoch Point.


Bob Turner and I saw a Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth at the Insh Marshes RSPB reserve near Kingussie.  There were also Chimney Sweeper moths, a Small Heath butterfly, Green-veined Whites, a really fresh Small Copper who wouldn't sit still to be photographed, and a Painted Lady who posed nicely.

Painted Lady


Hilary Swift's Perennial Wallflower Bowle's Mauve came up trumps again attracting a Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth to her Grantown-on-Spey garden.

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth


Mike and Britt Taylor had a reasonably productive time at the Gartenmore Junction site near Boat of Garten over the past two days, finding two Dingy Skippers,(photo of one below) three Orange-tip, a Green-veined white, two Small Copper, A Green Hairstreak, A Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth and a Mother Shipton.(Bottom photo)

Dingy Skipper

Mother Shipton


It continues to be a particularly interesting year for moth trapping in the "central" area of VC105.  Barry Blake caught this Scorched Wing on the NTS Inverewe Eastate today.  There are some 22 records for this species in VC105 but all bar one are from Brian Neath in the extreme south-west of the county.

Scorched Wing


Hilary Swift and Pete Moore saw a Dingy Skipper at a site in Glenfeshie.

Dingy Skipper Dingy Skipper


Hilary Swift had a great day for lepidoptera in and around her Grantown-on-Spey garden today.  First it was her first ever garden Small Copper quickly followed by a male and female Orange-tip nectaring on the Bowle's Mauve Perennial Wallflower.  Last, but not least, a Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth was nectaring on the Aubretia in the car park area, photo below.

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth


Richard Somers Cocks found at least 4 Small Blue and 3 Dingy Skipper on the lower reaches of the river Findhorn near Netherton.

Small Blue

Dingy Skipper


Andy Williams has had a splendid year for Orange-tips so far, seeing increased numbers at new sites to him in the north-west Highlands.  This photo was taken in Ullapool.


Andy also photographed this nice, fresh Green Hairstreak near Loch Ailort on the 7th of May.

Green Hairstreak


Jayne Theaker photographed a Chequered Skipper at Mingarry, Acharacle.

Chequered Skipper


Hugh Clark photographed a Comma at the side of the path by the river Spey at Spey Bay.  This would appear to be the most northerly recorded Comma in Scotland to date.



Bob Turner and I saw a couple of Green Hairstreaks near the end of the public road west of Carrbridge, Bob managed to get a photo of one of them.

Green Hairstreak


Bob Turner and I saw our first Small Copper of the year at Nairn, we also saw a Speckled Wood.

Small Copper


Barry Blake reports another early arrival, this Grey Scalloped Bar is the earliest record for VC105 by a week and is about 3 weeks ahead of "normal".

Grey Scalloped Bar


Bob Turner and I saw our first Speckled Wood of the year at Craigellachie NNR near Aviemore today.  It's the first time we've seen Speckled Wood at Craigellachie.


Bob Turner and I found our 1st Pearl-bordered Fritillaries of the year at a site just south of Aviemore.  There were also Orange Tips, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Green Hairstreak on what was a lovely, sunny day.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary


Mike Taylor found two mating pairs of Small Dark Yellow Underwing (photo below) at a site near Carrbridge and has also found Netted Mountain Moth on the wing at other local sites.

Small Dark Yellow Underwing


Barry Blake thinks it looks like it is going to be an early year for some species in the west.  The Light Knot Grass in the photo below is from Gairloch and is 8 days earlier than the previous record for VC105 and it was accompanied by 2 Scalloped Hazels, another species that doesn't appear there until early May.

Light Knot Grass


Hilary Swift found a Red Admiral egg-laying on Nettles near Grantown-on-Spey yesterday, Hilary thought the egg looked like a tiny stripry gourd.

Red Admiral Egg


After recording the first Purple Thorn for VC 105 in 2017 Barry Blake was surprised to find 3 in one trap on the Inverewe Estate on the night of 22 April. It got better as the same trap also had an Early Thorn, and the trap next door had a Lunar Thorn. The best find of the night was a Twin-spotted Quaker the first record north of the Dornie area (in the very south of the VC). Roy pointed out that this is a species expanding northwards so maybe there will be more. The night also yielded a Seraphim (only half a dozen records for the VC) and a Clouded Silver, another infrequently recorded species in the northwest. Good numbers of Orange -tips and the odd Small Tortoiseshell have now joined the Green-veined Whites in Gairloch (at last). 

Purple Thorn  Purple Thorn Twin-spotted Quaker Twin-spotted Quaker



Bob Turner and I saw Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and male Orange-tips at Lynwilg, just south of Aviemore.  We also saw a male Orange-tip at Milton Loch, Boat of Garten.



Henry Farquhar saw a male Orange-tip butterfly in his Lossiemouth garden, as well as other species.


Pete Moore and Hilary Swift saw loads of Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks in Glen Beg near Grantown-on-Spey as well as a Green-veined White.  Butterflies are also enjoying the Aubretia flowers in their garden in Grantown-on-Spey, just like the Small Tortoiseshell pictured below.

Small Tortoiseshell on Aubretia


Duncan Davidson saw a Peacock butterfly near Nairn.


Mike and Britt Taylor found their first butterfly of the year, a Peacock, on Findhorn dunes in fabulous butterfly weather, full sun, warm and no wind.



Nancy & Pete Gordon found this live Grey Dagger moth in their house.  Its normal flight period is mid-May to August, sometimes with a 2nd generation in September to October, so this individual is well outside that!  Vice county recorder Mike Taylor thinks it probably came into the house as a pupa on a firewood log, emerging early due to the warm conditions.

Grey Dagger 


Bob Turner and I found a Ruby Tiger larva by Loch Pityoulish near Boat of Garten today.

Ruby Tiger larva


I put the trap out in my Aviemore garden last night and caught a single Dotted Border - a first for the garden.

Dotted Border


Mike Taylor found a Brindled Pug in Findhorn, almost 4 weeks earlier than normal for the species in that area.

Brindled Pug


I found a Pale Brindled Beauty on the wall of my garage in Aviemore this evening, the earliest in January that I've seen, by over a week.

Pale Brindled Beauty


Mary Eagleson had a Pale Brindled Beauty on the kitchen window of her house near Maryburgh


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