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Migrating Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies?

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Offline quentin

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« on: June 22, 2016, 19:12 PM »
Yesterday (21 June) I was on the top of Mulhacen, the highest mountain on mainland Spain at almost 3500m. It is situated in the Sierra Nevada range in Andalucia, about 20 miles from the coast. The sky was clear and it was possible to see the mountains of Morocco, about 150 miles away. There was almost no wind and probably around 15 degrees centigrade. All around the summit and down to about 50m below there were literally hundreds of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies. There is very little vegetation up there and they seemed to be chasing one another about although I didn't see any mating.  Could someone tell me if they migrate - maybe from North Africa? It seems quite late but I know nothing of butterflies and their movements. Thanks very much,

Andrew

Offline NickMorgan

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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2016, 14:01 PM »
Andrew,
Rather a late response, I am afraid. Small Tortoiseshells do migrate a little, but not really in the way that some other species do. They tend to disperse from where they hatch out to find new territories. There is also a behaviour called "hill-topping" that many insects partake in.  The males tend to gather towards the top of a hill waiting for females to fly past. I have not heard of Small Tortoiseshells doing this, but I have seen Swallowtails doing so. I don't see any reason why Small Tortoiseshells shouldn't do this, however. The males will chase around, chasing after other butterflies, squabbling with males and seeking out females that fly into the area. I know that Small Tortoiseshells can be quite territorial, so I guess this is the behaviour you have been seeing.
Nick