New garden visitor: Comma Butterfly

Spotted feeding on a Sedum a week ago, my cameras captured images and my books confirmed an ID to be the Comma Butterfly. I always love to see a new visitor to my garden. The interesting story on this species is that back in the 20th Century it was in serious decline and in recent years it has made a comeback.

Further to this, the Comma Butterfly here in the UK, is expanding its range and has been heading Northwards from Southern Britain up through Scotland for a few years now. What’s interesting about that is that back in 1870 it was in fact extinct in Scotland. It has been suggested that climate change may be a factor in bringing it to the cooler temps up my way.

The butterfly is moving north at between 12 and 15km a year, and in the last ten years has successfully colonised the Borders, all of the Lothians, Fife and the southern parts of Tayside, with recent sightings reported from Dundee and Pitlochry.

Butterfly Conservation said of the Comma back in 2011

Should the Comma Butterfly continue successfully breeding in Southern Scotland and continue moving northwards, by 2017 it should arrive in Inverness says Paul Kirkland, Director of Butterfly Conservation Scotland.  Lol… I wouldn’t think there is any need for Nessie to be worried 😉

Below you can see a short video captured on the sunny, Sunday evening of September the 23rd. I managed to get a nice close-up view which I was delighted about and I’ve added a longer view of this busy nectar bar at the end. Note there is gentle background music and you can choose an HD quality to view. The image below it is a video grab showing the distinctive white mark shaped like a comma.

Although the common nettle is the most widely used food plant for the Comma butterfly, here in my garden just over the fence from my popular sedum planting I have the golden hop Humulus lupulus which is another possible food plant.

Perhaps it’s too late for this butterfly to stay long for this year as sightings are suggested to be from May to September but it’s certainly been fun to catch a glimpse of a new garden visitor and finding all about it. I love sharing a good story too 😀

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in September 2012.

13 thoughts on “New garden visitor: Comma Butterfly

  1. I would like to dedicate this post to my much loved, Dad who died very suddenly (after a short illness) a few days before this butterfly was spotted. It has been a very sad time. This sighting lifted my heart arriving when it did.

  2. Oh Shirley, I am so sorry to hear about your Dad's death. Big hugs to you. Butterflies are thought to be carriers of souls in some cultures. Maybe your Dad shoooed this Comma into your garden to lift your spirits. Love and much sympathy.

  3. Maybe the butterfly did come to give you some solace. My thoughts are with you; your ability to enjoy the presence of the butterfly is a sign that the grieving will stop and happy memories take the place of pain. Thank you for sharing this very special moment. Christina

  4. I am so sorry to hear about your dad. Glad that the butterfly helped just a little.We get commas on our allotment plot – plenty of nettles for them and the other butterflies that love them. I hadn't realised they were rarities but must admit I hadn't seen any until a few years ago.

  5. You know how very sorry I am Shirl…

    I had never realised that the Comma was a relatively new visitor to Scotland!! How very appropriate it should find you when it did.

    The video is delightful and I spotted the pretty little Small Tortoiseshell interloper in there at the end too 🙂

  6. So sorry to hear about your Dad's death Shirl. My thoughts are with you and your family. I can imagine that little butterfly must have lifted your spirits. I have seen a few commas this year. Did not realise that they have only just arrived in your neck of the woods – a most welcome newcomer. Take care ((((())))) xxx

  7. Always great to have a new visitor to the garden Shirl. Lovely piece of video. They are normally common round here but I've only seen one this year, just a few days ago.

  8. Hello everyone, thanks to you all for your kind comments and words. Interestingly, I've never seen this butterfly in my garden since which will make this species all the more special now. However, we have seen another, previously seen, visitor which will be revealed in my next post 🙂

  9. After I had read your post we had a comma on the buddleia in our garden which I took photos of and have posted on my blog

  10. Hello Sue… having trouble leaving you a reply here. Hope its a temp blogger glitch as I try again.

    Interestingly, the day you had your Comma we had a group of Red Admirals. I see you've had that visitor too along with the Small Tortoiseshell which we've had too.

    I'm hoping the Peacocks will make an appearance next and perhaps a Painted Lady or two – we haven't seen the later since the good year they had. Nice images you captured in your post 🙂

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