Can you spot this Quantock quartet?

We have set out below details of four species that you may be interested to try and spot in the coming weeks and months, three of which can be quite a challenge to see, can you bag all four? 

So far 28 species of the 59 UK butterfly species have been seen on the Quantocks over the last year (and uploaded to the Quantocks Wildlife Watch),  many of which you can see flying over the next month or two. 

The Silver-washed Fritillary is one of the UK’s biggest and most spectacular butterflies (around 72-76mm open winged) best seen in wooded valleys often coming down to nectar on bramble flowers or violets. 

The name is due to the silvery stripes on the underside of the wings, open winged the males have distinctive stripes whilst the females are more “spotty” but can be mistaken for the Dark Green Fritillary, You ideally need to get a picture of both the opening and closed wings in order to be certain of the species with the female. 

The next two butterflies really can be quite a challenge to spot as they are small and spend much of the time flying high around the tops of trees, where their main source of food is aphid honeydew. Both of these butterflies are around half the size of the SW Fritillary at around 37-40mm

[Image @Chris van Swaay]

The Purple Hairstreak spends most of its time in and around Oak trees and one of the best places to see it is on the higher edges of woodland where they meet the heathland, sunny days and warm evenings are best. 

The Brown Hairstreaks prefer Ash trees but lay their eggs on Blackthorns, so these are most likely to be found along hedgerows like the ones where the hills meet the farmland. Last year two were spotted nr Weacombe and Vinnicombe on the western end of the Hill. 

The Grayling butterfly can also be hard to spot due to its habit of settling closed winged with its upper wing hidden behind its camouflaged, mottled grey/brown lower wing, making this 55/60mm butterfly seem much smaller than it is. Look out for these in open heathland along the paths and other bare ground. 

With all of these butterflies,  you can use the iNaturalist app to identify and record your sightings and also to search for previous sightings of them using the explore tab.