Butterflies making a come back

POPULATIONS of pearl-bordered and small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies at Devon Wildlife Trust s Marsland nature reserve on the North Devon and Cornwall border are set for a boost this year thanks to new funding from the Pennon Environmental Fund T

POPULATIONS of pearl-bordered and small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies at Devon Wildlife Trust's Marsland nature reserve on the North Devon and Cornwall border are set for a boost this year thanks to new funding from the Pennon Environmental Fund

The grant of �4,900 follows news this summer that numbers for both species have increased dramatically compared to the overall national decline thanks to careful management.

The grant will help the charity to extend successful management practices to new areas within the 190 hectare coastal reserve. The project will focus on scrub management and coppicing.

Gorse and scrub will be cleared on the steep south-facing valley sides in order to provide the precise egg-laying requirements of the female butterflies. Bracken will also be cut and raked to encourage violets - the food plant of the fritillary larvae.

"We have worked hard over the last two decades to improve the habitat for these beautiful and rare insects," said Gary Pilkington, senior nature reserves officer for the trust.

"It is great to see such positive improvements compared to the 50 per cent decline nationally for both species. This grant will enable our work to continue to help these amazing butterflies to expand here at Marsland and we look forward to the count next summer to see if we have further increases in numbers!"

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Other species set to benefit include the grizzled and dingy skipper butterflies, birds such as linnets and spotted flycatchers, as well as mammals such as the dormouse.

For more information about the site visit the Marsland nature reserve page at www.devonwildlifetrust.org.

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