My husband took a picture last week of a butterfly thought to be extinct in the UK. We were told it was a Comma, but after scrutinising the picture on the screen we realised it was more than that. Possibly a rare Large Tortoiseshell. We got some expert advice from Will Wagstaff on the Isles of Scilly and sure enough here is what he said.
‘Yes you were right it is a Large Tortoiseshell. There were at least three records until this year with the first in 1934. I then saw one on St Agnes many years ago. However since you went back we have had another record. This one was in the extension of Lower Moors last Weds. It was found some 20 mins before I was going through on one of my walks. We had just found it when the original finder came back with others. It stayed in the area all afternoon along with three Commas. The one we saw looked more worn that your one so I suppose it could have been the same individual.
Although extinct as a breeding species for some 50 years they do turn up as a vagrant occasionally. I gather there have been several records in Dorset of late.’
Good old hubby eh? It’s the rarity you always wanted to find, to be the first. I think he was.
QUICK UPDATE – Since the report from Will Wagstaff, we have confirmation that the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust have requested details of the finding for their records