Ayrshire has a rich variety of butterflies, having 22 resident species recorded. In addition to the resident species, Ayrshire can also see migrant species which come from Europe and England, such as the Camberwell Beauty and Comma, to the more rare Clouded Yellow Colias croceus and Painted Lady Vanessa cardui.
Although the habitat in Ayrshire is dominated by farmland and conifer plantations, there are some excellent areas of meadows, saltmarsh, bog and coastal grassland that support butterfly populations, from the commonly recorded Green-Veined White Pieris napi and the Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae to the less recorded Northern Brown Argus Aricia artaxerxes and Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi.
Ayrshire also has five species of conservation concern. The Dingy Skipper Erynnis tages tages has declined dramatically over recent decades, making it the rarest butterfly in South West Scotland. The Northern Brown Argus Aricia artaxerxes is a predominantly coastal species, its distribution closely matching that of its larval foodplant Common Rock-rose Helionthemum nummularium. The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Boloria selene and the Large Heath Coenonympha tullia have suffered dramatic national declines, most likely due to changes in woodland and grassland management.
To the average person, moths are often thought of as drab, brown insects that fly at night and eat clothes. Whilst it is true that some are small and brown, many others are as beautiful as any butterfly, and more species of moth are active during the daytime than butterflies. Ayrshire is home to many of the 2500 species of macro- and micro-moths found in the UK. Common species include the Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba, Common Carpet Epirrhoe alternate and July Highflyer Hydriomena furcata, as well as stunning examples, such as the Elephant Hawk-moth Deilephila elpenor.
Day flying moths can often be confused for butterflies, such as the Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae which can be found hovering around knapweed on warm summer days. The common and widespread Speckled Yellow Pseudopanthera macularia is often disturbed from long grass on sunny days.
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