In 1882 Victorian naturalist WA Luff listed 27 species of butterflies on Sark, and 48 moths. He mistakenly thought that though Sark was smaller than Guernsey it boasted a greater number of species, in fact, Guernsey has about twice the fauna. However, some of the rarer Guernsey species are comparatively common on Sark, e.g. Lappet moth (Gastropacha quercifolia).
In his introduction to ‘Insects of Sark’ Luff pointed out that although Sark was only three miles long and one and a half miles wide there was a great variety of habitats, such as fields and gardens, trees and hedges, and some wooded valleys (e.g. Dixcart). There were some small streams such as the ones in Dixcart valley and at Port du Moulin, but no large sandy commons.
One ‘habitat’ he neglected to mention was a large tree by the bicycle park at L’Ecluse, above Port du Moulin, which weeps sap and attracts many butterflies.
He published his findings in the Transactions of the Societe Guernesiaise in 1907.
Later surveys differ very little. In 1967 a survey by Cyril J Shayer reported that the number of species for the butterflies had risen to 36.
A report by Roger Long in 1970 noted 57 species for the entire Channel Islands, including one species of Fritillary on Sark not found on the other islands.
Many visitors enjoy walking through the lanes, the valleys or the commons of Sark to spot the variety of butterflies here.