Scarce Tortoiseshell

As a kid I mostly came across Small Tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae L.) and some close, equally common relatives. I was wishing to spot some of the larger, but quite identical species.

It took 20 years to make this wish come true, and all by coincidence. Spending time with my family on a children’s playground nearby, I suddenly saw a creature flying nervously. It looked very similar to the Small Tortoiseshell, but bigger.

Thanks to the decent camera built-in into the iPhone, and the fact that the butterfly took a rather long rest on a birch next to me, I got the chance to get some photos. This was of huge help for later identifying the individual at home.

First, I was convinced it was a Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros), one of the species I seriously wanted to sight as a kid. Nevertheless, a more detailed look confirmed it actually was another species, a Scarce Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis xanthomelas).

Related to another incident in summer 2013 which got me to reinvent a childhood hobby, this was yet a big player helping to make that decision.

Finding caterpillars of the Scarce Tortoiseshell is definitely one of the challenges to aim at in summer 2014. It’s not an easy target, but that’s what the Butterfly Playbook is all about.

Did you know…

The Scarce Tortoiseshell used to be an unusual wanderer in Finland. However, in summer 2012 a mass migration of the species took place. The same phenomenon repeated itself in Finland in 2013.

Source: LuontoPortti (January 9, 2014)

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