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Butterfly Season, Wave Two. June 2015. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

Marsh Fritillary




Excellent month, with top action in both Lithuania and Latvia, a grand haul of totally new species for me including Clouded Apollo, Baltic Grayling, Alcon Blue, Eastern Baton Blue, Duke of Burgundy Fritillary, Marsh Fritillary, Bog Fritillary, Nickerl's Fritillary and Frigga's Fritillary!







4 June. Latvian Extravaganza.


A spectacular start to the month with a trip to Latvia netting an amazing seven species that I had never previously seen in the Baltic States! Close to midnight on the Friday night, casual communication with a butterfly enthusiast in Riga had got my mind whirling ...I had asked about Clouded Apollos, and the reply had mentioned a whole bunch of mouth-watering extras, chief among them not only the Clouded Apollo, but also Baltic Grayling and Duke of Burgundy Fritillary! Dream species for someone in Lithuania, where they are highly rare and restricted in range.



Latvian butterfly bog



An hour later, loaded up with gen and some pretty good maps, I was in the car heading north for a quick 960 km round trip to the sunny delights of Latvia. Slept three hours at the border, then pushed on to arrive at the first destination way too early for butterflies to be flying. One Moose plodding in wet meadows, a couple of Cranes flying over, one River Warbler trilling in song, Red-backed Shrikes sitting atop piles of dead wood, not a bad start to the day. A most picturesque raised bog decorated with numerous Orchidsorchids, I strolled around for an hour or so seeing not a single butterfly, but then on the stroke of 9.30 a.m. as the day began to warm, suddenly butterflies began to appear. Within 15 minutes or so,  I was in heaven – my first new species of the day, Marsh Fritillaries were all over the place! Soon I added the next with a half dozen Scarce Heaths also flitting about, then added a third with a single False Heath Fritillary, a butterfly I am sure I sometimes overlook in Lithuania among the Heath Fritllaries.





Marsh Fritillary

False Heath Fritillary

Scarce Heath


Glorious these butterflies were, but my main target here was still eluding me. Changing habitat, I set off to search adjacent flower meadows for the butterfly in question, the enigmatic Duke of Burgundy Fritillary. A little late in the season for this one, so after searching for quite a while, I began to assume I had missed it. Or maybe I was just in the wrong habitat –  I had interpreted its favoured 'forest clearings' to mean small flower meadows dotted amongst the pines. No sign however.


Duke of Burgundy



Either way, after giving up in the meadows, I wandered back through the pines only to find a small butterfly alighting on the track in a relatively open glade. And there it was, a fantastic Duke of Burgundy Fritillary, a far smaller butterfly than I had expected and an absolute cracker. Very obliging too, the individual spending great periods of time taking salts from patches of bare ground or simply sunning on low-standing vegetation.



So, site one had delivered all its hoped for butterflies and the day was still young. Onward to the next destination, a drive of some 45 km to a small meadow bordering a stream. Here, if all went to plan, Clouded Apollos should be flying at the peak of their season. And indeed they were, within about fifteen seconds of arriving, two were floating past and a third briefly landed on a flower head! Super, these were one of my main targets for the entire year, nicely complementing the Apollos and Small Apollos that I had seen for the first time in the Alps one year earlier. As with these larger cousins however, getting photographs was quite a challenge however – it seems that Apollos are not fans of settling for very long!


Clouded Apollo




After an hour and more in this meadow, staking many a fine Clouded Apollo, I eventually got a few reasonable shots. Small Heaths and Large Skipper also here. As a farewell, as I wandered back to the car, yet another Clouded Apollo landed on my leg and sapped up whatever salt or sweat it fancied!





Truly hot and sunny, a very pleasant 24 C at this stage. Driving towards my next destination, another 60 km to the north, numerous Black-veined Whites and occasional Moorland Clouded Yellows were on the wing. All was looking good for the final target of the day, albeit that I was potentially a little late in the season. Arriving, I was at another very nice raised bog with open tussock grasses and numerous dead stunted pines dotting the fringes. This was the habitat of Baltic Grayling, a butterfly very rare and localised in Lithuania, but a little more abundant in Latvia. A couple of Green Hairstreaks as I walked towards the open area, one or two Moorland Clouded Yellows also floating past, then quite an abundance Pearl-spotted Fritillaries flying at the margin of the bog. Very soon, a moderate-sized grey butterfly fluttered past and settled on a trunk of one of the withered pines ...very clear what that was going to be! And then there were three, then a couple more further along. Celebration, at least a dozen Baltic Graylings still on the wing, some quite tatty, but fortunately still some quite pristine. One Large Wall Brown too, plus a Grizzled Skipper.


Baltic Grayling

What great day, I had now encountered ten new butterflies for the year, six of which were species I'd not seen in the Baltic States before and four were completely new for me! Being a little greedy, I still had the possibility of one more addition to the day – Olive Skipper, which would also be a species that I had not seen in the Baltic States before. The locality however was north-east of Riga, a distance of some 160 km. By the time I reached the site, it was past 6 p.m, quite a breeze was blowing and basically my chances were very low. I only saw a couple of butterflies in total at this site, both of which were Small Heaths.

I turned and headed back to Lithuania, arriving home some 21 hours after my early morning departure ...a lightening tour of Latvia, but one that really impressed me. Many thanks are due to the butterfly enthusiast in Riga, the pointers were truly appreciated.



  • 30. Clouded Apollo
  • 31. Black-veined White
  • 32. Moorland Clouded Yellow
  • 33. Duke of Burgundy Fritillary
  • 34. Marsh Fritillary
  • 35. False Heath Fritillary
  • 36. Large Wall Brown
  • 37. Baltic Grayling
  • 38. Scarce Heath
  • 39. Large Skipper



5 June. Good Stuff in Lithuania, Part One.

Weather about to break, but a last sunny morning to enjoy the spoils. After heading north the previous day, I decided on a trip to southern Lithuania on this occasion, focusing on Čepkeliai Bog, the largest raised bog in the country. I have to say, the butterfly abundance was very low in comparison to what I had encountered in Latvia the day before, but I was still in for treat – I had been hoping to find Cranberry Fritillary, a species I have seen here in the past, but no such joy on this day.

Instead, arriving to initially no butterflies, I then noticed a number of small fritillaries flying in the bog-stunted tree transition zone ...hmm, thought I, maybe the target species. Checking them out however, I found not Cranberry Fritillaries, but the rather more common Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, a good dozen or two.  I would have been a tad disappointed if it had not been for one single butterfly that appeared 'different' – a glimpse at the underwing and there I spotted a row of distinctive black circles with white centres near the margin of the hindwing!


Bog Fritillary




I was looking at my first ever Bog Fritillary, a very good species to find in Lithuania! To make things even better, a single Baltic Grayling also appeared, landing on a trunk just as in the individuals in Latvia had done so the day before. So there we have it, one totally new species for me, and one new for me in Lithuania ...not bad at all.




Also saw a couple of Moorland Clouded Yellows, my first Purple-shot Copper of the year, a handful of Green Hairstreaks and a Grizzled Skipper. Then, as midday approached, it clouded over, action for the day over.



  • 40. Purple-shot Copper
  • 41. Bog Fritillary


6 June.  Good Stuff in Lithuania, Part Two.

The forecast for the coming weekend was decidedly bad, so with warm sun still remaining I sneaked a few hours out from work and headed to a river valley near Dūkštos to explore meadows that have proved excellent in past years. And excellent they once again proved – no less than sixteen species in just a couple of hours, some of the rewards including my first Mazarine and Amanda's Blues of the year, my first Pearly Heaths of the year, my first Purple-edged Copper and, highlight of the day, four species of fritillary, including significantly at least four Knapweed Fritillaries (a species I have only ever encountered on a couple of occasions in Lithuania) and, better still, one splendid Nickerl's Fritillary. This latter is not only a very localised species in the country, but it is also a completely new species for me!


Nickerls Fritillary


So it was, a good couple of hours in the field, including six new butterfly species for the year count.



  • 42. Purple-edged Copper
  • 43. Mazarine Blue
  • 44. Amanda's Blue
  • 45. Knapweed Fritillary
  • 46. Nickerl's Fritillary
  • 47. Pearly Heath



11-12 June. Brrrr!

Then it all turned yuk!  Cloudy, wet and a rather pathetic temperature of 7 C on the 11th, improving only somewhat the next day to about 13 C with occasional sun.


Large Chequered Skipper



Needless to say, zero butterflies on the first day, but actually not too bad on the next. Dodging showers and concentrating on the occasional sunny spells, I notched up 13 species, chief amongst them two additions for the year - Lesser Marbled Fritillary and Large Chequered Skipper. Also quite an increase in Pearly Heaths, so too Amanda's Blues.






  • 48. Lesser Marbled Fritillary
  • 49. Large Chequered Skipper




13 June. Surprise!


Clouded Apollo




Investigated a new area this day, a quaint riverside in middle Lithuania, a sometimes haunt for Twinspot Fritillary a little later in the season. Thought there was a small chance of an early one today, but did not expect the first butterfly that I saw - a Clouded Apollo!





After travelling to Latvia a couple of weeks earlier to see them, this was a very pleasant surprise to find one locally - a rather faded individual, but a good find in Lithuania, so no complaints from me! What was equally nice though was the supporting cast of butterflies ...not only at least 80 Lesser Marbled Fritillaries and a few Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, but also a second generation Map Butterfly, a minimum of 45 Large Skippers, a whole bunch of Large Chequered Skippers and a couple of new species for the year too, namely several Chestnut Heaths and two Large Heaths.


Chestnut Heath


To top this off, adjacent woodland glades added yet more species, two Woodland Browns (a localised species in Lithuania) and my first White Admiral of the season amongst them. In total, nineteen species on this day.



  • 50. White Admiral
  • 51. Large Heath
  • 52. Chestnut Heath
  • 53. Woodland Brown
  • 54. Small Skipper



16-20 June. Splendid Times.

Despite a mixed bag with the weather, an excellent few days with several very rare species seen, most notably Frigga’s Fritillary and Alcon Blue.


16 June. Čepkeliai.


Cloudy with sunny spells, strong wind - weather far from ideal for butterflies on the wing. This was my second visit of the season to Čepkeliai, a large raised bog in the southeast of the country. On my previous visit, I had already found Bog Fritillary and Baltic Grayling, but still the locality held a number of highly localized specialities, most notably Cranberry Fritillary and Frigga’s Fritillary, this latter species restricted in Lithuania to this single location.





Added my first Dark Green Fritillaries and Red Admiral of the year at Ropėjos Forest on route, before arriving at Čepkeliai just in time to watch the sun vanish behind a bank of high cloud and the wind to increase significantly! Very few butterflies remained on the wing, but exploring the bog from the Belarussian side for the first time, I did find sundews and other marshland plants.





Trudged about an hour or so, encountered eleven fritillaries, all but two being Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, most rising to catch the wind and vanish off into the distance within seconds. I also found a Bog Fritillary aside a small pool, but prize of the day went to the last butterfly of my walk a Frigga's Fritillary! No photographs, this butterfly too got the wind under its tail, one quick observation on the ground, then it was lost.

Back on dry ground, a brief sunny spell allowed quite a nice selection of added extras alone a nearby forest track, cream of the pick going to several Moorland Clouded Yellows, a couple of Black-veined Whites and two Green Hairstreaks. Also found another Bog Fritillary on the opposite side of Čepkeliai.



  • 55. Dark Green Fritillary
  • 56. Frigga's Fritillary
  • 57. Red Admiral



18 June. Labanoras and Dūkštos.

Sunny, gusting winds. Numerous trees toppled during the night, pines snapped like matchsticks. Flower meadows on my land at Labanoras were exposed to the full force of the wind, a single species did I see a brave Meadow Brown, my first of the year.


White Admiral


Seeking better conditions, I drove a half dozen kilometers to the east to find a sheltered meadow bathed in quite warm sunshine, this was considerable more productive with many dozens of butterflies flying, prominent among them at least 25 Lesser Marbled Fritillaries, a few more Meadow Browns, a White Admiral, three Purple-shot Coppers and my first Silver-studded Blue. Also three Dark Green Fritillaries, a White Admiral and good selection of others.



Next stop was Dūkštos, flower-rich meadows in the Neries Valley. Several times I had been here in the previous weeks hoping to find Alcon Blues that could perhaps occur on the slopes, never had I been successful. With the wind abating and the meadows abuzz with many good butterflies, this day however proved most excellent - 23 species in just an hour, many in high abundance. And in among these many butterflies, a few real crackers - one Poplar Admiral, six Nickerl's Fritillaries, one Geranium Argus (my third ever in Lithuania), one Idas Blue (also my third in Lithuania) and, the crème de la crème, two splendid Alcon Blues on a patch of short turf. This species occurs in just one or two known localities in the country and I was purely guessing that they might occur where I was searching! And so it was, a good find indeed!!!


Alcon Blue



  • 58. Silver-studded Blue
  • 59. Idas Blue
  • 60. Alcon Blue
  • 61. Geranium Argus
  • 62. Poplar Admiral
  • 63. Meadow Brown
  • 64. Essex Skipper



19 June. Ukmergė.


Wandering riverside meadows, sunny and 25 C, another hunt for the localized Twinspot Fritillary. No joy, but a classic day all the same, a Northern Chequered Skipper (my first since 2012) among the first butterflies of the day, then at least 150 Lesser Marbled Fritillaries and 180 Chestnut Heaths in the myriad of butterflies present, along with 18 White Admirals, two Purple Emperors, a Woodland Brown and my first Ringlets of the year. A nearby hillside added yet more, including a faded Glanville Fritillary, one more species that I rarely see. Twenty-two species on this day, my year list climbing by a healthy four species!


Northern Chequered Skipper



  • 65. Glanville Fritillary
  • 66. Purple Emperor
  • 67. Ringlet
  • 68. Northern Chequered Skipper



20 June. Vievis.


I have only seen one Ilex Hairstreak in Lithuania prior to this year - a single individual on 3 July 2010 in a small forest clearing near Vievis, the butterfly pictured below. With the six-year anniversary of this event approaching, I have returned to this very same clearing on a couple of occasions in recent days hoping for a repeat performance.


Ilex Hairstreak (2010)


Today was another attempt - a weak sun did not promise too much and wandering the same tree line produced very few butterflies, a number of Heath Fritillaries and Pearly Heaths mostly sat on flower tops, a few Large Skippers also prominent. After crisscrossing the area for half an hour or so, focusing on areas near oaks, I decided the weather was not conducive for success, so returned to my car. One Painted Lady flushed, a new species for the year, one Little Blue too.



Got in the car, drove off looking for where to turn ...then stopped! A mere two hundred metres from the locality of six years earlier, a small butterfly was settled on the road - I jumped out of the car and got a nice look at the butterfly ...one Ilex Hairstreak! What luck! Up it flitted and then it was lost, perhaps rising to settle in one of a number of oaks lining the track. With the exception of Green Hairstreak, I always struggle to find any of this group, so a most welcome addition to the year! 



  • 69. Painted Lady
  • 70. Ilex Skipper



29-30 June. Up, Up and Up.


A few days away in Switzerland, then back to Lithuania for a massive upswing in the number of butterflies on the wing - with hundreds of individuals and over thirty species, these last couple of days of June truly marked the beginning of the peak season. Not only numbers and variety, but sheer class in the mix with species including Niobe Fritillary and my first ever Eastern Baton Blue! Year list jumps to 78, equally my highest ever total for a single year in Lithuania.


29 June.




A few hours to spare, I headed to favourite butterfly haunts south of the capital - and a treat it was, 35 species and literally hundreds of butterflies along the forest tracks, Heath Fritillaries alone numbering an absolute minimum of 500, and other totals including 95 Pearly Heaths and 50 Silver-studded Blues. First Silver-washed Fritillaries and High Brown Fritillaries of the year, a nice Queen of Spain Fritillary too, plus Purple Emperors and quite a lot of Scarce Coppers and Ringlets.







Shifting a few kilometres to open forest heath, the abundance of butterflies diminished significantly - this site is far better a little later in the season - but what it lacked in numbers, it certainly made up for in quality! Quickly found my first Spotted Fritillaries of the year, then after a long search my first Grayling, but better was soon to follow!





First found a Niobe Fritillary, then the absolute cream on the cake ...an Eastern Baton Blue! Initially expected it to be a Silver-studded Blue, many in this very area, but stonking great spots on the underwing, the identity immediately very obvious. Never seen this species before, so yet another fantastic find to add to the top class month.


Eastern Baton Blue

Eastern Baton Blue



  • 71. Scarce Copper
  • 72. Eastern Baton Blue
  • 73. Silver-washed Fritillary
  • 74. High Brown Fritillary
  • 75. Niobe Fritillary
  • 76. Spotted Fritillary
  • 77. Grayling



30 June.


Short-tailed Blue


Turn of Labanoras - spent a couple of hours on my land, checking the beds of wild strawberries for a species that I often encounter in this area ...and so I found it, a single Short-tailed Blue, my 78th species of the year in the Baltic States. Quite chuffed with this - with the peak month of July still to come, and a several easy species yet to see, I had now equalled my highest ever year total in Lithuania, acheived in 2010. Whatever my final total, it is going to be record-breaking. 




78. Short-tailed Blue




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Last Updated ( Monday, 25 July 2016 )
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