Good year for Bideford butterflies

IT has been a good year for the rare and threatened marsh fritillary butterfly on a number of Devon s nature reserves, including a record number reported on one in Torridgeside. Devon Wildlife Trust has recorded more than 430 marsh fritillaries at its St

IT has been a good year for the rare and threatened marsh fritillary butterfly on a number of Devon's nature reserves, including a record number reported on one in Torridgeside.

Devon Wildlife Trust has recorded more than 430 marsh fritillaries at its Stowford Nature Reserve, near Bideford, providing an extra reason to celebrate the site's 10th anniversary.

The success has been partly put down to the careful management of the culm grassland site.

Senior Nature Reserves Officer Gary Pilkington said: "The sunny weather has helped this year, but the good numbers have also been down to the particular management regime we have fine-tuned over the years, including periodic grazing, good scrub control by burning and the encouragement of the butterfly's food plant the Devil's-bit Scabious.


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"It's great news that after 10 years of hard work we are starting to see results here at Stowford and, thankfully, the same techniques have resulted in good counts at our other culm reserves, too. It's very difficult to understand why this species is on the danger list in other parts of Great Britain as it readily responds to sensitive management."

Marsh fritillary butterflies appear on the wing from the end of May each year until mid-June. They lay their eggs in small heaps on the underside of leaves of Devil's-bit Scabious. After hatching, the larvae spin a silken web on the leaves, feeding only on sunny days, before going into hibernation in August or September.

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For more information about the reserve visit www.devonwildlifetrust.org

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