Britain's rarest and biggest blue butterfly species, the Large Blue, has returned to a Gloucestershire site for the first time in 150 years, thanks to a successful reintroduction project led by The National Trust.
The globally endangered butterfly – which was declared extinct in 1979 — was released on the 867 acre site at Rodborough Common last year to help give a much-needed boost to the breed.
To help the Large Blue, the team created restricted targeted grazing areas, plus encouraged the growth of wild thyme and marjoram (the main food source for species). And, over the summer, an estimated 750 butterflies have successfully emerged.
"Bringing such an important and rare species back to Rodborough Common is a testament to what collaborations between organisations and individuals can achieve. Creating the right conditions has been vital to the programme and this doesn't happen overnight," Julian Bendle, Conservation Officer for the Back from the Brink project and the Butterfly Conservation, says.
Richard Evans, Area Ranger for the commons adds: "Butterflies are such sensitive creatures, and with the large blue's particular requirements they are real barometers for what is happening with our environment and the changing climate.
"Large blues were once a common sight on the commons but some of the grassy slopes had become overgrown which had a severe impact on the red ant's habitat. The long grass and scrub had caused the soil to cool which made it difficult for the ants to survive. As the ant population dwindled in the late nineteenth century, so did the numbers of large blues."
Simple ways you can help butterflies in your garden:
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