Are our churches harbouring sleepy butterflies?

Many of our churchyards are known for being a haven for wildlife - but it seems our bell towers and outbuildings are hotbeds for hibernation.

Ken Orpe is the butterfly recorder for Butterfly Conservation in Derbyshire. He writes:

"Due to the very hot weather many Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies have gone into hibernation very early this year.

"In fact, a lady from Denby checked out the bell room at her local church last week and found 25 butterflies hibernating there – 10 Peacocks & 15 Small Tortoiseshells!

"I wonder whether any of your colleagues at the various churches in Derby and Derbyshire area have noticed an increase of this early hibernation recently?"

The very hot weather in July 2018 was too much for the coloured butterflies to withstand – they usually fly between 10° C and 23° C so a week of 30° C was too hot for them!  

The white butterflies kept on flying because they reflect the heat (rather than absorb it) so we were seeing only white butterflies on our buddleias as the Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells decided to go into hibernation very early – they don't usually do that until mid to late September when the weather cools down.

All in all, this summer has been quite extraordinary – some butterflies have really taken advantage of it such as the Wall Brown in the Peak District where it is usually up to 5° C cooler than in Derby, whereas other species just wanted to get out of the heat!

Have you seen hibernating butterflies in your belfry?

Please, let us know (and take some photos!)

The Diocese of Derby

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Derby Church House

Full Street, Derby DE1 3DR

01332 388650 (reception)

Church House reception: 

enquiries@derby.anglican.org