Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies and moths abound in the gardens, encouraged by our policies of limiting use of pesticides and of planting and managing host plants for their caterpillars. Some of Europe’s largest and most attractive butterflies can be common around the gardens. These include the Monarch, Two-tailed Pasha, Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail and Spanish Festoon. There are sometimes large influxes of migratory species, such as the Clouded Yellow, Red Admiral and especially the Painted Lady. Sedentary species include the Cleopatra, Large and Small Whites, Striped Grayling and the Speckled Wood in shady, wooded spots. A few smaller species are also represented, the most common being the Holly Blue and Geranium Bronze.

Thaumetopoaea pityocampa

Butterflies that can be observed around the gardens, together with their foodplants, are:

– Monarch Danaus plexippus (Asclepias spp.)
– Two-tailed Pasha Charaxes jasius (Osyris lanceolata & Arbutus unedo)
– Swallowtail Papilio machaon (Apiaceae)
– Scarce Swallowtail Iphiclides podalirius feisthamelii (Crataegus monogyna)
– Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Urtica dubia)
– Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Malva sylvestris)
– Large White Pieris brassica (Brassicaceae & Tropaeolum majus)
– Small White Pieris rapae (Brassicaceae)
– Clouded Yellow Colias croceus (Fabaceae)
– Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria (Poaceae)
– Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina (Aristolochia baetica)
– Cleopatra Gonepteryx cleopatra (Rhamnus alaternus)
– Geranium Bronze Cacyreus marshalii (Pelargonium spp.)
– Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus (Hedera helix)
– Common Blue Polyommatus icarus (Fabaceae)
– Lang’s Short-tailed Blue Leptotes pirithous (Plumbago auriculata)
– Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus (Fabaceae)
– Southern Brown Argus Aricia cramera (Geraniaceae & Fabaceae)
– Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas (Rumex spp.)
– Striped Grayling Pseudoptergumia fidia (Macrochloa tenacissima)

Most moths in the Alameda are nocturnal, but the gardens are the type locality for a very attractive subspecies of day-flying moth, Zygaena fausta gibraltarica. The larvae of the Pine Processionary Moth Thaumetopoaea pityocampa are conspicuous during the early spring, when long trails of caterpillars leave the trees to search for places to pupate. Their hairs can cause a rash and we use pheromone traps to control numbers, but we do not aim to eradicate them from our gardens.

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