This year it has been the gatekeeper butterfly. The hot July gave a boost to butterflies but in North London it seems very few species were left able to take advantage of it. It’s about 5 years since we saw a peacock in the garden. This year, apart the usual early orange tip and a single speckled wood, until July there were a few visits by a comma, a regular in recent years and that was it.
There were plenty of whites around in July as predicted but the gatekeepers have been a constant presence, swelling to a maximum of 5 at the same time on the last very hot day of July. Gatekeepers are not urban butterflies and it seems they were never found in London during the years of industrial pollution. They returned to Hampstead Heath in 1991 and seem to be thriving. They’ve certainly been regulars in our garden for the last few years but never on this scale. So good for the gatekeepers but where are the red admirals that used to swarm over a large buddleia bush in the street two doors away? Where are the peacocks?