Butterflies are the most obvious and popular of our insects. As with many birds, numerous species suffered huge population declines during the twentieth century as a result of changes in agriculture, particularly loss of grasslands, and the demise of traditional woodland management.
However, we are relatively fortunate – 34 butterflies are seen regularly in Lancashire and North Merseyside. Two areas are especially important: the dune coasts of Merseyside and the Fylde, and the wooded grasslands on the Morecambe Bay limestone around Silverdale. The latter site is amongst the most significant areas for butterflies in the country. Key species may be found throughout these areas but two sites are particularly important: the National and Local Nature Reserves at Ainsdale on the Sefton Coast, and Gait Barrows NNR in the north.
In 1995, The Museum of Lancashire (Fleetwood Museum) and Butterfly Conservation came together to promote the national ‘Butterflies for the New Millennium’ project. Since then over 74,600 records have been collected from a wide range of sources. Historical records are being researched with a view to a Lancashire publication incorporating all available knowledge of butterflies within the county.
In 2019, the Society published a book on the “Butterflies and Day-flying Moths of Lancashire”. This is available from the secretary for £12 incl Postage.
List of Butterflies found in Lancashire and North Merseyside as of 2018
|Species||Population Status in Lancashire||Distribution|
|Dingy Skipper||Stable||Silverdale area only|
|Grizzled Skipper||Sporadic records (introductions)|
|Wood White||Sporadic records (introductions)|
|Large White||Probable decline||Widespread|
|Small White||Probable decline||Widespread|
|Clouded Yellow||Mainly coastal migrant|
|Pale Clouded Yellow||Vagrant|
|Large Heath||Uncertain||North Bowland and Norn-west lowland mosses|
|Small Heath||Probable decline||Uplands and coastal areas|
|Scotch Argus||Sporadic records in north|
|Gatekeeper||Increase||Widespread away from uplands|
|Pearl-bordered Fritillary||Steep decline||Silverdale area|
|Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary||Decline||Silverdale and north|
|Silver-washed Fritillary||Sporadic records mainly from Silverdale area|
|Dark Green Fritillary||Increase||Coastal and high moorland|
|High Brown Fritillary||Steep decline||Silverdale area|
|Duke of Burgundy||Steep decline||Silverdale area|
|Brown Hairstreak||Recent introduction||Silverdale area|
|Purple Hairstreak||Increase||Thinly scattered|
|Green Hairstreak||Decline||Uplands & Silverdale|
|White-letter Hairstreak||Increase||Mainly south of Ribble, thinly scattered|
|Holly Blue||Stable||Widespread way from Upland areas|
|Northern Brown Argus||Steep decline||Silverdale area|
|Common Blue||Stable||Widespread but absent from high fells|