Back in June we were promised a sizeable influx of painted lady butterflies. A strong fast-flying migrant, the insect normally arrives from Europe in numbers about every ten years, the most memorable occasion being a decade ago when millions flew in and were seen in our gardens and the wider countryside throughout the summer.

So this year I waited but saw only a couple until, in the middle of August I went on holiday to Devon and, lo and behold, there they were....... squadrons of them!

Every buddleia, appropriately named the 'butterfly bush' was awash with painted ladies all jostling for position on the flowers, accompanied by many red admirals, very common this year too.

Such a beautiful colourful sight and reminiscent of thirty years ago when buddleias attracted many species on a regular basis.

Those migrant butterflies will have paired up and laid eggs, producing a home bred generation, most of which will attempt a reverse migration in late summer. Until recently, it was thought that some may have faded away because they were not seen flying south but radar coverage reveals that the butterflies fly at some height on the way back to Europe so were not detected visually from below. 

By contrast, red admirals also attempt a reverse migration but travel about two metres above ground and can sometimes be seen over wide expanses of meadowland such as in Richmond Park flying rapidly in a southerly direction. 

So, another wonderful painted lady summer.