It appears many of our native butterflies that over winter as adults have survived in good numbers. Their awakening has also coincided with a wonderful flourish of spring flowers for them to feed on, particularly dandelions. This plant, often the target of garden weed killers, is actually a vital lifeline for many early emerging butterflies and other insects. Strangely, if the dandelion was a rare alpine flower we would all want one!
Indeed, during a recent walk around Lofthouse Colliery Nature Park, there were sightings of three of our native butterfly species that overwinter as adults, including brimstone. Also, there were plenty of small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies feeding on dandelion flowers, with the latter also feeding on blackthorn (see image taken during the visit).. Other butterfly sightings on the day included holly blue (see image) and orange tip, which both overwinter as chrysalis.
Lofthouse Colliery Nature Park is well worth a visit with a rich mixture of habitats all in a relatively small area, including ponds and areas of heather, grassland and woodland supporting a wide range of wildlife. In addition, there is a very good heritage trail with information boards reflecting the interesting history of the site from the 1870s to the present date. Also, there is a memorial to Lofthouse Colliery and all those that worked there, together with the men who lost their lives at the coal face. The site is cared for by the Lofthouse Colliery Action Group and Wakefield MDC.