Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 11:09 UK

African butterflies swarm to UK

Painted Lady butterflies
Enthusiasts saw nearly 3,000 Painted Lady butterflies in about 45 minutes

Unusually high numbers of Painted Lady butterflies have been arriving in the South East.

Wildlife photographer Kerry King said enthusiasts recently managed to spot nearly 3,000 in about 45 minutes.

The Butterfly Conservation Trust said the species, which has orange, black and white-spotted wings, was becoming increasingly common across the UK.

Painted Lady butterflies are from north Africa, but migrate to Europe seeking cooler temperatures each year.

Mild weather

Mr King said: "In a space of about 45 minutes, we counted nearly 3,000 of these butterflies which is quite incredible.

"The Painted Lady is not a British butterfly. It migrates to this country.

"This year, because we've had mild weather conditions and I should imagine the wind has been perfect for them, we have seen this abundance of Painted Lady butterflies which is absolutely just swarming across the South East."

The Butterfly Conservation Trust said that both the Painted Lady butterfly and Humming-bird Hawk-moth were arriving from Africa and becoming increasingly common in the UK.

The trust is mapping the spread of departure of the migrant insects on its website.


Painted Lady butterflies, with orange, black and white-spotted wings, are becoming increasingly common in the UK

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