Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - June 1996
Ian Morgan

Weather wise, 1995 will be remembered for its cold late spring period, followed after late June by an almost uninterrupted stretch of dry sunny weather which only started to break in late August.  With regard to butterflies, local naturalists will recall the ample springtime sightings of Brimstones Gonepteryx rhamni and the late summer abundance of ubiquitous Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta.

Of the thirteen 1995 Brimstone sightings, the first was a male in a garden at Erw-las, Llwynhendy 21/537993 on 13 March, perhaps lured there by a thriving Buckthorn bush (one of the larval food plants).  All the subsequent Brimstone sightings were from within its known range  in the SE of the county (see Llanelli Nats. Newsl. 59:7-8). Two of the thirteen records, - at Llwyn-têg, Llannon 22/551083, J Crowden, 29 July and Rehoboth 22/478046, H Griffiths, 3 Aug. - were of the new brood.  The other 1995 Brimstone records are listed below:

Brimstone

SE of Lower Lliedi Reservoir 22/520032,     IKM, 12 Apr.

near. Loughor Bridge 21/553984,    B Stewart, 13 Apr.

Gelli Dêg near Cydweli 22/422105,    T Crosby, 14 Apr.

Llwyn-têg, Llannon 22/551083,    J Crowden, 17 Apr.

Furnace 22/503012,    R H Davies, 28 Apr.

Ponthenri 22/484101,    A Lucas, 2 May

NW of Tre-Cynllaeth 22/685145,    IKM, 2 May

Cydweli Quay 22/397064,    G Harper & C Jones, 3 May

Llwyn-têg 22/551084,    JC, 6 May

Cross Hands 22/566122,    JC, 23 May (male & female)

Penclacwydd 21/528985,    B Stewart, 23 May

Rhos Cefn Bryn 22/555072,    JC, 26 May

(R D Pryce also furnished three Glamorgan brimstone sightings: Blaengwrach 22/860049, 14 Mar.; adjacent to Felindre sub-station 22/650012, 29 Mar. and ENE of Aberdulais 22/785001, 7 June.)

The Green Hairstreak Calophrys rubi is a markedly local species in Carmarthenshire, with populations found typically on the gorsey flanks of the hill country and on the rougher parts of the coastal dunes.  A few were seen in Pembrey Forest 22/393012 on 5 May, and one was seen during the same period by Steve Lucas near Tirlan, Llwyn-têg 22/556075.  Janet Crowden also noted this species on willow blossom at the Dyfed Wildlife Trust reserve at Rhos Cefn Bryn on 12 June, one the next day at the edge of a plantation at Llwyn-têg 22/551083, and another in Pembrey Country Park 22/40-99- on 18 June.

The coastal burrows also provided the only Dark-green Fritillary Argynnis aglaja records of 1995 - along the 'Bee Orchid Ride' (to the east of Tywyn Burrows 22/373033, 15 July and a lone individual on Pembrey Burrows 21/41-99- two days earlier.  There were only two sightings of Silver-washed Fritillaries Argynnis paphia - one at Carmel Woods 22/601165 on 11 Aug., and another, two days later, at Pembrey Forest 22/378026 (SL).

There was a modest number of Marsh Fritillary Eurodryas aurinia and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Boloria selene sightings. These are listed below.

Marsh Fritillary

  1. Myrtle Hill, Five Roads 22/511055        1 on  1 June, GS Motley & J Bevan
  2. Parc Matho, near Cydweli 22/443086     10 on  9 June GS Motley & J Bevan
  3. Banc Mawr 22/553072        5 on 31 May GS Motley & J Bevan
  4. Craigbryn, Alltwalis 22/426329        1 on 23 June, S Andrews
  5. Craigbryn, Alltwalis 22/427328        5 on 18 June, A Lucas
  6. Nant y Garreg 22/374365        1 on 29 June A Lucas
  7. Rhos Cefn Bryn 22/555072*        4 on 4 June, J Crowden
  8. Rhos Cefn Bryn 22/555072    <20 on 13 June J Crowden
  9. Cwrt y Beynon, Pinged 22/434038        3 on 14 June J Crowden
  10. E. of Tycroes 22/609109       6 on 21 May, B Stewart & S Turner

* 72 larval webs counted at this DWT reserve in late Sept. by JC & Steve Lucas.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

  1. near. Rhyd y Groes 22/776470          1 on 4 June, RD Pryce & G Hutchinson
  2. Llundain fach, Esgairdawe 22/613416        7 on - June, J Graham
  3. Ynys-tawela, Brynamman 22/707139        2 on 15 June, IKM
  4. Blaencothi 22/694485         1 on 26 June, AL
  5. Craigbryn, Alltwalis 22/427328         2 on 18 June AL
  6. Nant y Garreg 22/374365         1 on 29 June AL
  7. near Gelli 22/484384         1 on 7 June, SA
  8. W. of Cwmcreigiau-fach 22/427327        3 on 23 June SA
  9. Myrtle Hill 22/511055         3 on 31 May, GSM & JB

Twenty Marbled Whites Melanargia galathea were counted by GSM & JB near Drefach 22/533141 on 25 July and 18 were at Tycroes 22/609109, again in July (BS & ST).  A July 1994 record was of 'several' near Cae'r Bryn (22/598143 to 601142).

Other sightings of interest include a Small Blue Cupido minimus, recorded by GSM & J Murphy on the dunes at Llansteffan 22/352101 on 2 July, and the observation by B Stewart & S Turner of many Large White Pieris brassicae caterpillars on sea rocket Cakile maritima at Pembrey Burrows 21/42-99- on 8 July.

Again there was a dearth of Comma Polygonia c-album and Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus records; indeed there were no reports of either butterfly, in contrast to only a few years ago when both species were frequently noted.  There was only one record of a Clouded Yellow Colias croceus - at Cynnant, Cynghordy 22/810443 in the NE of the county, perhaps a little surprising in a summer which was good for other migratory insects.  The sand dune populations of Kidney Vetch Anthyllis vulneraria (the food plant of the Small Blue) were completely desiccated and shrivelled, so it will be interesting to see if next summer's (1996) numbers of small blues are adversely affected.

One species, however, which did have a good year was the Red Admiral, which first appeared in mid April.  This butterfly was truly widespread and abundant, particularly in September when, for example, 18 were feasting on ivy blossom near the Pwll entrance to Stradey Woods 22/487008 on 19 Sept. (IKM, GH) whilst an amazing 70+ bedecked the same plant growing on the walls of Furnace Primary School 22/499011 on 22 Sept. (R H Davies).  Barry Stewart and Sandra Turner made the surprising nocturnal capture of Red Admirals in their moth trap at Erw-las, Llwynhendy 21/537992 on the nights of 14 and 19 Sept., presumably an indication of the heavy immigration then taking place. Painted Ladies were around too (but in rather more modest numbers) from mid-July.

Note:  Any unattributed records are those of the author.

Acknowledgements: Thanks are due to all recorders mentioned in the text who submitted records.