This month has been filled with warmth, mixed weather and lots of insect action in our wildflower meadows. July is typically a warm month and with the heatwave of the south not quite reaching us in the Cairngorms National Park, we still experienced up to thirty degrees which was enough to make it feel like Summer.
The Wildflower meadows have been at their peak, with different varieties and colours of flowers spread through the grass. These meadows are an ideal place to look for different insets, butterflies and moths for their expanse of pollen. A variety of coloured flowers such as Scottish bluebell (Harebell) Foxes and Cubs, Devils Bit Scabious and Eyebright can be found in a typical wildflower meadow in amongst the grass.
With the warm temperatures a walk on a sunny day is a great time to look out for insects around our lochs/ wetlands and wildflower meadows. The Cairngorms has around twelve Dragonfly and Damselfly species which an often be hard to see when in flight. They like to live in Bog woodland where the trees attract the insects for eating and the pools of water where rushes grow are good for shelter. Three common species are the Common Hawkers, Large Red Damselfly and Four-spotted Chaser. Two rare species found in the Cairngorms are the Northern Damselfly and White- faced Darter found around our deep bog pools. It can be hard to distinguish between damselflies and dragonflies but the way they lie on the long grasses is the easiest way to tell. Dragonflies will sit with their wings spread out, and a damselfly will tuck its wings in.
Along with the usual butterflies that take flight in July, there was a sudden influx of Painted Lady butterfly in many parts of the UK, the largest migration in a decade. They were found in large numbers feeding on the thistles. The last time a mass migration occurred, around 11 million of these butterflies came here from Africa over many generations of the butterflies. There were lots in the Cairngorms on the wild thistles and in the wildflower meadows. Other butterflies like the Speckled Wood, Scotch Argus and Dark Green Fritillary have also been a common sight.