A higher brown fritillary butterfly
Violets may halt butterfly decline
Conservationists in Devon are hoping to halt the decline of one of Britain's rarest butterflies. They plan to lure the high brown fritillary back to a nature reserve at Dunsford by growing more violets.
A Devon nature reserve is at the forefront of a project to protect one of Britain's rarest butterflies.
The Devon Wildlife Trust's Dunsford reserve is home to the only colony of the high brown fritillary left in the Teign Valley and one of only 50 sites in the country to support this rare insect.
The butterfly is listed as nationally endangered, and has suffered the greatest decline of any of the British butterfly species over the past few decades.
Work starts in February 2008 on a £44,000 habitat management scheme aimed at halting the decline.
The brown fritillary is one of Britain's rarest
"This is such an important species of butterfly that it is vital that we do all we can to protect and enhance its habitats here in Devon," said DWT's nature reserves officer, Andrew Bakere.
"We only count on average around 30 individuals in any one season here at Dunsford, so over the next three years we hope there will be a significant increase following this work.
"We also hope that in the longer term it will start to re-colonise other areas of the Teign Valley."
The wildlife trust hopes that better management of the habitat will help boost numbers of the high brown fritillary.
To thrive, the caterpillars require warmth and access to abundant violets.
So the work at Dunsford will be focused on targeted management of bracken to increase the number of violets that grow there. The reserve's woodland glades will also be opened up as part of the project.
Extensive habitat monitoring will be carried out over the course of the three year project to check what impact it has on wildlife in the reserve.
The money has been awarded by the waste management company Biffa, which awards grants to community and environmental projects across the UK.
The high brown fritillary has a wingspan of about 60mm. Its upper wing surface is orange with black markings similar to several related fritillaries. Underneath, it usually has silvery dots and a distinctive row of orange spots on the hindwing.
last updated: 20/02/2008 at 15:08