The first Wall Brown Butterfly found in Estonia

Published 22.08.2018

The University of Tartu (UT) researcher Andro Truuverk caught the first Wall Brown butterfly (Lasiommata megera) on the 8th of August 2018 in Treiman, Pärnu County. 

‘Indeed, this is the first time this species has been encountered in Estonia. The closest to Estonia that this butterfly has previously been seen is North Latvia’, said Andro Truuverk, doctoral student at the University of Tartu Department of Zoology and Senior Specialist at the University of Tartu Natural History Museum.

He added that the expansion of the species’ habitat to Estonia from Latvia, Estonia’s southern neighbour, was a high-probability event and therefore only to be expected. ‘In Latvia, this butterfly has become so commonplace that expansion towards the north was just a matter of time – although certainly, the uncommonly warm summer also played its part,’ Truuverk added to explain the context of the spread to Estonia of this representative of the Nymphalidae family of butterflies.

‘The fact that this species, which is fairly common in Central and Southern Europe, has reached Estonia is related to climate change since we are observing multiple occurrences of the same pattern – a species that used to be rare in our closest southern neighbourhood, Latvia and Lithuania becomes more common in those countries and is eventually found in Estonia. Many of the species that have reached Estonia in this way have stayed here permanently. I believe the same is going to happen with the Wall Brown butterfly,’ explained Erki Õunap, Research Fellow at the UT Chair of Entomology.

He added that the find is especially noteworthy because the species represents a group of butterflies. New species, both of macro and micro Lepidopera, are discovered in the Estonian fauna almost every year. Now, of the approximately 1000 species of macro Lepidopera known in Estonia, the number of butterfly species amounts to 114.

The last new butterfly discovered in the Estonian fauna was the tufted skipper (Carcharodus flocciferus) found at the southern border of the country in 1995.

The find of the Wall Brown butterfly has also been recorded in the biodiversity database eElurikkus.

Additional information: Andro Truuverk, doctoral student at the UT Chair of Zoology and Senior Specialist at the UT Natural History Museum, 514 1268, andro.truuverk@ut.ee