Thursday, August 8, 2019 - 16:30
An abundance of striking painted lady butterflies is mesmerising visitors to the Eden Project this summer.
The stunning deep orange and black spotted insects are being seen in Eden’s pollination gardens as well as the outer estates.
Painted ladies - otherwise known as Vanessa cardui – migrate to the UK each summer from Europe and Africa.
For the first time in ten years, a sharp increase in numbers has been witnessed around the UK, with thousands of painted ladies enjoying the recent warmer weather, creating a perfect environment for the species to thrive in.
In 2018, Eden took part in the Big Butterfly Count, a Butterfly Conservation initiative which helps to assess the health of the environment, as a reduction in the numbers of butterflies can act as an early warning for other wildlife losses.
At least six different species were spotted in the Eden outer estates during last year’s count, including meadow browns, common blues and silver-washed fritillaries.
No painted ladies were recorded last year.  Emma Pearce, Eden’s Horticultural Scientist, is thrilled that the colourful creatures have made a welcome return in abundance this year.
Emma said:  “We are seeing really good numbers both in the gardens and around Eden’s outer estate. We’re delighted to be able to include them in our submissions to this year’s Big Butterfly Count.”
The current home-grown painted ladies are believed to be descendants of those carried on winds from sub-Saharan Africa, along with newer arrivals from continental Europe. Their delicate but strong wings can cover up to 100 miles each day as they migrate.
It is hoped another ‘homegrown’ generation of painted ladies will be emerging in the UK in September, which will then head south to warmer climates.
Another rare species that is also being spotted around Eden is the common blue.  These too have made a significant comeback thanks to the increase in temperature. The common blue has been struggling for the last 40 years but in the summer of 2018 its population increased by a massive 104 per cent due to sunnier conditions.
Eden is the perfect environment for pollinating insects such as butterflies, thanks to the vast range of exotic and British flowers it homes.
Its new Minibeast Mansion play area for children under 10 features a new climbing tower. Alongside it is a minibeast hotel which is now attracting many kinds of insects.
The Minibeast Mansion play area opening coincides with Earth Story, Eden’s summer event, which shares the amazing tale of our world’s astonishing past, precarious present day – and looks towards a positive future.
Have you spotted any of these painted ladies during your recent visit to Eden? If you were lucky enough to capture one on camera, why not enter Eden’s Instagram/Twitter photo competition? To be in with a chance to win a Canon EOS 2000D DSLR camera submit a photo of any aspect of Eden.
To find out more on the Big Butterfly Count, which is due to finish 11th August, and how to get involved visit