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BROCHURE RACK

Large blue butterflies flying in Gloucestershire.

20/06/2011 13:56:34
butterflies/Large_Blue

Large blue butterflies were extinct in the UK until reintroduced in the 1970s

Large blue butterflies
On Tuesday 14th June 2011 large blues were spotted in flight at 
Daneway Banks nature reserve for the first time this year, these beautiful and very rare butterflies was reintroduced to the reserve in 2002, after being extinct in the county since the 1960's. The reintroduction is part of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology's (CEH)Large Blue Project.

Over the last two years, bad weather meant that successful large blue emergence numbers had taken a tumble, and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust was worried that this might have a significant impact on an already delicate population.

"It's great to see them returning again this year, and we're hoping that this means they are beginning to shake off the last two years of poor weather" Says Pete Bradshaw, Stroud Area Reserves Manager. "We work so hard to get the conditions right for them, so it's heartening to see them persevering".

Managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, with the kind help of the Daneway Inn's herd of Norfolk horn rare breed sheep, and Welsh mountain ponies from Butt's Farm (a rare breed farm in Cirencester) the reserve provides the large blues with a unique habitat and special conditions in which to breed.

Butterflies need ants & thyme
The butterfly relies on another species to help it's lifespan along the way, a red ant called the Myrmica sabuleti, and laying its eggs on wild thyme. Once hatched, the caterpillars feed on the thyme before dropping to the ground where the red ants mistake them for ant larvae and take them into their colonies. There the butterfly larvae feed on ant larvae until they emerge as butterflies.

There's a very short window in which to see the large blues, but if the weather conditions stay good we hope they might be around for the next two weeks if you're planning a visit.

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