Butterflies and Moths
Click here for an extensive and illustrative report on a butterfly tour in July 2006.
These tours are best in June and July, because the diversity and abuncies of butterflies are higher then early spring or late summer. Those interested in spring specialties, such as Scarce Fritillary, Clouded Apollo, Chequered Skipper, Southern Festoon, should book a tour in May.
NE Hungary has an extremely rich Butterfly Fauna. This richness, paradoxically, is partly a result of vanishing traditional land use. Within some decades, as anywhere else in modern countries in Europe, (almost all) cattle and sheep disappeared from the extended and extensively grazed meadows. As a result, the succession of the vegetation has a climax now, with high numbers of flowers and a large variety of structural elements (rocky parts, short grass, tall grass and shrubs), offering an abundance of nectar and protection for insects, without being disturbed by grazing animals. On short term, this development is beneficial for insect populations, most strikingly displayed by butterflies. Long term development depends on many aspects, of which the most important is future usage of the abandoned fields. Here and there parts are conserved by National Parks, but most of the land has private owners. Butterflies have a growing status in Hungary. Therefore, the Hungarian Nature Conservation works hard to focus attention on these former meadows, which often form a buffer around and an ecological infrastructure between the protected Nature area’s.
The richness of butterflies is expressed in quantity as well as in quality. Both common species as Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and rare species as Anomalous Blue show very dense populations. Next to grassland butterflies, species from forest edges and forest roads are extremely abundant. In July, the most common species in or near forests is the Silver-washed Fritillary. A much rarer species of comparable habitat is Pallas’s Fritillary, but also this one has high population densities. It is an exciting experience to distinguish it in flight from the other Argynnis species, that fly around in even higher numbers. It is striking how many Large Coppers or Dryads you can see on one day. Depending on the season a large number of species (90-100) can be observed in a week. Please ask for observation lists of previous tours or read the trip reports. Species with a more or less eastern distribution are printed in italics in the target list below.
Butterfly tours lead us to the best spots in Bukk (3 days), Aggtelek (2) and Zemplen (1). Usually, a day at the plains is added to the Butterfly Tour, merely to increase variety of landscape. Here our focus will be on steppe-birds and a few butterfly species that are more common here or absent in the hills, such as several ‘yellows’, Knapweed Fritillary, Lesser Fiery Copper.
Clouded Apollo, Southern Festoon, Common and Scarce Swallowtail, Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow, Chequered Skipper, Safflower Skipper, Hungarian Skipper, Camberwell Beauty, Large and Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell, Cardinal, Silver-washed Fritillary, Pallas’s Fritillary, Twinspot Fritillary, Assmann’s Fritillary, Lesser Sotted Fritillary, Scarse Fritillary, Marbled Fritillary, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, High Brown Fritillary, Weaver’s Fritillary, Knapweed Fritillary, Purple, Lesser Purple and Freyer’s Purple Emperor, Hungarian and Common Glider, Large Blue, Green-underside Blue, Checkered Blue, Geranium Argus, Turquoise Blue, Meleager’s Blue, Chalk-hill Blue, Scarce Large Blue, Alcon Blue, Eastern Short-tailed Blue, Osiris Blue, Lesser Sotted Blue, Anomalous Blue, Lesser Fiery Copper, Large Copper, Purple-edged Copper, Purple-shot Copper, Sooty Copper, Duke of Burgundy, Woodland Brown, False Grayling, Dusky Meadow Brown, Woodland Brown, Woodland Grayling, Great Banded Grayling, Dryad etc.
Click here for trip reports with observation lists.
During moth tours we run 3 moth traps. 2 of them are in our gardens. One in our butterfly field and one in the orchard. These produce several hundreds of species. The third trap is a mobile one with a blue light. This trap is placed somewher near but away from the village. In addition we go out at night in the field or forests with a mobile trap and a generator.
Through the years we have studied the nightlife at our domain more and more intensively. Our English guests were the first to be enthousiastic about the moths in our gardens. Great Peacock, Aglais Tau, the Orache and Oak Hawkmoth are just a few spectacular examples that can be found in our moth-traps. In our orchard, garden and surroundings you’ll find more then you dream of. The 2 moth traps in our gardens (a Skinner and a Robinson) produce incredible results. For example: Oak Hawkmoth, Willowherb Hawkmoth, Orache, Lewes Wave, Great Peacock, Toadfax Brocade, Lewes belle, Scarce Merveille du Jour, Ochraceous Wave, Scarce Hooktip, Pine Lappet, Black-veined Moth and many more. Read the trip reports or check the Wildlife in Hungary page for observation lists.