These lovely creatures, White admirals (Limenitis camilla), were the fourth new species of butterfly I saw while on holiday in East Sussex last week, and the third new species we found at Abbot’s Wood, a lovely Forestry Commission woodland near Polegate that we chose for a walk primarily because the towering trees would provide shelter from the burning sun. Little did we realise what wonders lay within!
I knew this was a new-to-me species when I saw it gliding low along the woodland path in front of me, as I’d not seen a butterfly flying like that before. This first White admiral was rather tatty looking, with much of its lower wings missing. Was it a poor flyer or had it been tangling with other butterflies in the hunt for a mate?
Almost immediately we saw a second White admiral and, though this one had a small nick out of one wing, it was in much better overall condition and seemed quite happy to sit and pose for photos. These glorious butterflies live mostly in southern Britain, in mature woodland where there is an abundance of their caterpillar food plant, the Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum).