If your passion is for butterflies, I suggest you take a walk a little way along the dunes to the south from Gwithian. It isn’t far to an area of the dunes called ‘Upton Towans’, this is a Cornwall Wildlife Trust nature reserve, though at the start of the 20th century it was a dynamite factory, and you will still be able to make out several unnatural features such as tracks and earth banks around the area. Head for the very tall chimney and concentrate your search in an area a couple of hundred yards to the seaward side of this.
From mid-June to mid-July this is one of the best places in the country to see silver-studded blue butterflies. The males of these tiny butterflies are vivid blue and the females are brown, critically both have silvery-blue spots near the edge of their underwings. Without seeing these spots it’s difficult to distinguish them from common blue butterflies which also occur here.
The dark green fritillary is a large, strong-flying species with a chequered pattern of orange and brown on its wings, this is on the wing from late June to August. Of the 26 species of butterfly recorded at Upton Towans the other notable species include small pearl-bordered fritillary and brown argus.
Upton Towans is the best area for butterflies but they can be encountered anywhere on the dunes and there are many other insects to look out for too. On bare patches of sandy ground look for the unusual, red-banded sand digger wasp. This strange-looking creature digs out a hole in which to lay its eggs then it paralyses a caterpillar and drags that into its nest hole, this will stay alive long enough to act as fresh food for its own growing larvae.