UNUSUALLY high numbers of Painted Lady butterflies have been reported across Europe, with large numbers now spotted crossing over into the UK.

Several sightings have been reported across Bournemouth, Poole, Wimborne, Wareham and Kimmeridge.

The butterfly is a common immigrant that migrates in varying numbers from the continent to the UK each summer, but around once every 10 years the UK experiences a Painted Lady ‘summer’ when millions of the butterflies arrive en masse.

Butterfly Conservation vice-president and wildlife broadcaster, Chris Packham, is calling on nature lovers to take part in the Big Butterfly Count, which is taking place up until August 11, to help reveal if we are experiencing a Painted Lady year.

The last mass immigration took place in 2009 when around 11 million Painted Ladies descended widely across the UK.

Chris said: “The Painted Lady migration is one of the wonders of the natural world. Travelling up to one kilometre in the sky and at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour these seemingly fragile creatures migrate hundreds of miles to reach our shores each year.

"This butterfly undertakes an extraordinary 7,500-mile round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle every year – almost double the length of the famous migrations of the Monarch butterfly in North America.

"Signs across Europe are looking very promising, meaning that 2019 could be a very good year for the Painted Lady with high numbers already being recorded across parts of the UK.

"The butterfly can turn up anywhere so please take part in the Big Butterfly Count and look out for them, you could be witnessing a once in a decade butterfly phenomenon."

Visit butterfly-conservation.org/DorsetCountEvents