You’ll probably recognise many of these beautiful British butterflies. They come from two cabinets of butterflies and moths at Buxton Museum which, from the similarity of the labels, seem to be the collection of one person. The first cabinet contains eight drawers of moths, the second has six of moths and four of butterflies. The labels you can see in the photo normally live on the pins which hold the butterflies in place and show who collected them, when and where. The Camberwell Beauty in the bottom right is a rare migrant from Scandinavia and British sightings are usually on the East coast of England. Nowadays they sometimes escape or are released by breeders in this country. Unfortunately, this specimen had no information to say where it was collected. Many of the others are from Urmston, collected by C. S. Gleave in the 1930s and 40s and it would be great to find out more about the collector. If any readers have any information we’d be delighted to hear from you. The blue on the wings of the Camberwell Beauty and the Peacocks is picked up by the camera flash, as is the stunning silvery underwing of the Dark Green Fritillary, bottom left.
The Large Tortoiseshell, top right, is now considered extinct in Britain and again sightings, mostly around the south coast, are thought to be migrants or escapees. It’s suggested part of its decline is linked to Dutch Elm disease as Elm was one of its main foodplants.
These butterflies have recently returned from a migration to the Entomology Department at Manchester Museum where they have had a chilly holiday in a specialist freezer at -40° C to make sure there no living insects eating the collection! We’d like to say a big thank you to Dr Dmitri Logunov and Manchester Museum for the use of the freezer.