BBC News

Scots forest's butterflies buck downward UK trend

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image copyrightIain H Leach
image captionThe habitat at Mabie has been developed to help the butterfly thrive

A rare butterfly colony in southern Scotland is continuing to buck a downward UK trend.

The pearl-bordered fritillary has declined rapidly in recent decades and is now highly threatened in England and Wales.

However, Butterfly Conservation and Forestry Land Scotland said there was much more "encouraging news" at Mabie Forest near Dumfries.

It is now thought to have one of the largest populations in the country.

Butterfly Conservation spokesman Paul Kirkland said: “The pearl-bordered fritillary is the first fritillary to emerge and can be found from late April through to mid-June along sunny forestry tracks, in woodland glades and also on south-facing hillsides with bracken.

“The Mabie North butterfly transect has been carefully monitored for 25 years, latterly by a team of brilliant volunteers, and their skill and dedication means that we can be confident that the pearl-bordered fritillary is doing extremely well”.

Bill Coombes of FLS said much work had been done to help the colony.

"Butterflies are recognised as indicator species linked to both climatic and habitat changes," he said.

"With a large decline in butterfly numbers nationally over the past 20 years the reserve is managed to create a diverse range of micro habitats to cater for all stages of the butterflies’ life cycle.

“A mixture of sunny and shaded areas in the lowland mixed deciduous forest area affords a rich diversity of uneven habitat structures that support 23 recorded species."

Other species including the small pearl-bordered and dark green fritillary and wall brown are also said to be doing well.