Nature Note - Marbled White Butterfly
The English names for things found in nature can be very confusing at times. This attractive white and black butterfly is not one of our brassica-eating ‘cabbage’ whites. In fact it is an insect of open grasslands closely related to some of our commonest grassland ‘brown’ butterflies such as Meadow Brown and Ringlet. If you look for Marbled White in a butterfly book, you need to look in the section labelled ‘browns’.
The adults fly between late June and early August and as with most butterflies, are best looked for on sunny days with relatively little wind.
The main populations are found in the south of England, especially on grassland, on free-draining soils such as chalk or limestone. However, this species is expanding its range and is now becoming more widely established in Leicestershire. Until recently, the best sites close to Kibworth were some of the disused quarries in Rutland such as the Wildlife Trust reserves at Ketton and Bloody Oaks. However, small numbers of Marbled Whites have been seen in Great Glen in the last three years, on some of the grassy slopes created when the A6 by-pass was created. At the same time, records have started to be received from a number of other grassland sites across Leicestershire. To date, I have not heard of Marbled Whites in Kibworth but there is every chance that there are some waiting to be found!
You may know of an area where Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies are regularly seen. If so, a visit on a warm sunny day might reward you with a sighting of this very attractive insect. Look for them taking nectar at knapweed or scabious flowers.
Alternatively, if you are a member of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and you wish to see Marbled Whites and potentially 20+ species of butterfly in one visit, spend an afternoon at Ketton or Bloody Oaks.
If you are not a member of The Trust, more information (including details of any open days at reserves) can be accessed online at: www.lrwt.org.uk.
Don’t forget, the last wildlife walk for this spring, organised by Great Glen Community Wildspace, is on 23 June. Meet at 9am on the Great Glen Memorial Green.