|It was standing room only in the Atholl Room at the Centenary Centre in Peel for a very popular talk and slide show about Manx butterflies given by Gail Jeffcoate on behalf of the Manx Wildlife Trust.
Appointed as local co-ordinator for the ‘Butterflies for the New Millennium Project’, Gail was well placed to discuss the varied lives and habits of these delicate creatures, which was accompanied by some stunning photography.
Covering every aspect of their lifecycle she pointed out each species behaviour, their feeding habits and vulnerability to predators.
With a total of 19 different species able to tolerate our climate on the Isle of Man she recounted some of the staggeringly long distances that butterflies are prepared to travel before they settle.
Not every species makes an appearance each year, but climate change has already made an impact on their lives with the Red Admiral now spending the winter season in the apparently less cold British Isles. They are natural sun worshippers who don’t mind the rain, but dislike the wind.
The Isle of Man is home to a divided population of sedentary and mobile butterflies with various life spans and territories. Their disposition, much like our own, can vary and is not always as good natured as we might believe, with some of the males known to chase off unwanted attention.
Gail advised members of the audience how to attract different species of butterfly into their gardens, providing useful tips about their habits and pointing out their often overlooked intelligence.
Local data about butterflies on the Isle of Man is used for collating distribution maps, which give enthusiasts accurate details of where to locate a specific species and a full pattern of how different types have spread across the Island over a long period of time.
Valerie Caine © April 2011 All photos by Gail Jeffcoate