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large tortoiseshell

Pictured: large tortoiseshell, Nymphalis polychloros

Notes from Jenyns: Taken on wing between Ely & Littleport, in July 1827: ~ And in 1828~ specimens occurred also at Swaffham Prior, Bottisham, & Cambridge.

200-year trend in Cambridgeshire: Decline.

Modern records

This species was once resident and widespread across the south of the UK, including Cambridgeshire, but it has now been virtually extinct in the country for around 50 years. That being said, it is a strongly migratory species and occasional specimens are still seen. Recent sightings of larvae are also positive but it still has a long way to go to reach historical numbers.  Victorian collectors found it to be extremely common amongst woodlands but Dutch elm disease destroying the larval foodplant, climate change and other factors have been suggested as reasons for its decline.

National records map

Large tortoiseshell national records map: