Although there are no butterflies permanently established on Fair Isle, immigrants do occur annually. In most years only a handful of butterflies are seen on the island, but in some years large invasions have occurred; those in 1980, 1996, 2002 and 2003 were particularly stunning.
Eleven species of butterfly have been recorded on Fair Isle, but only two have bred.
The following are seen annually or near annually in varying numbers:
Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae
Peacock Inachis io
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (has bred)
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui
VagrantsThe following have only been recorded on a few occasions:
Large White Pieris brassicae (formerly near annual and has bred)
Small White Pieris rapae June 1978, August 1989 and July 1992
Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus June 1980
Clouded Yellow Colias croceus July/August 1980, May 1992 and August 1992
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina June 1980
Swallowtail Papilio machaon Upper Leogh September 1995
Common Blue Polyommatus icarus 1990 (also blue sp. August 1980).
[Monarch – possible 1 September 2002]
Two species and two other taxa have been recorded as vagrants:
Common Hawker Aeshna juncea 24 July 1955
Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata July 1958 & probable 6 September 2004
Darter sp. Sympetrum sp. August 2001
Hawker sp. 13 September 1995 (most probably Migrant Emperor Hemianax ephipigger)