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Good year for rare Marsh fritillary butterfly in Devon

17/06/2010 23:33:21

BUMPER YEAR: The Marsh Fritillary

Marsh fritillaries are the delight of North Devon


June 2010: Numbers of marsh fritillary butterflies at Devon Wildlife Trust's north Devon nature reserves have had an impressive year in 2010 due to good weather conditions and successful winter management work.

The marsh fritillary is threatened throughout Europe. In north Devon it thrives on Culm grasslands but these have declined dramatically over the past century due to neglect and changing farming practices.

Devon Wildlife Trust owns and manages a range of Culm sites and counts of the butterflies at these during June have shown excellent numbers. Especially good results have been recorded for Volehouse Moor and Stowford Moor Nature Reserve, as well as at Dunsdon National Nature Reserve. At Meresfelle nature reserve, DWT's most recent acquisition, an encouraging 30 adult marsh fritillary butterflies have also been spotted.

The result of fine weather and good management

It is thought that the combination of good weather following extensive scrub clearance and other essential management work by DWT has been responsible for boosting numbers of the butterfly. This work was made possible by support from GrantScape.

Gary Pilkington, DWT's Senior Nature Reserves Officer said: "It has been a really encouraging year this year with lots of adults of this very rare and threatened butterfly seen in flight over our reserves. We had a busy winter getting the sites in top condition to help this species and it's great to see the results. The management for the species also helps other varieties of wildlife that are specific to Culm such as orchids and many birds."

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