Rare butterfly makes comeback in woods near Wragby

A Marsh Fritlllary butterfly
A Marsh Fritlllary butterfly

One of Lincolnshire’s rarest butterflies is making at a woodland site near Wragby, Butterfly Conservation can reveal.

The wildlife charity has been working to stabilise numbers of the internationally threatened Marsh Fritillary by improving its habitat areas.

The work has paid off with Butterfly Conservation Lincolnshire reporting a dramatic increase in numbers at Chambers Farm Wood.

Lawrie Poole is on the branch committee and has been visiting the site for years. He said: “We were really worried about this butterfly and in 2013 the most anyone saw at any one time was four.

“Last year was incredible – the fields were alive with them.

“I counted at least 41 in one go and that was just the ones near me. When you think this is one of our rarest butterflies, this is an amazing result and we’re keen to see the same this year.”

The Marsh Fritillary is brightly coloured - the upper wings are reddish-orange, with yellow or white patches and black veins.

It is also the only fritillary to have a row of black dots around the bottom edge on both sides of the hindwing, but none on the forewing.

Once widespread in Britain and Ireland, its numbers have declined by nearly 50% over the twentieth century, a pattern also mirrored throughout Europe.

Because of this, it is now one of the few butterflies afforded protection on a continental scale.

Butterfly Conservation Lincolnshire regularly holds events at Chambers Farm Wood where volunteers are invited to take part in conservation work, which not only benefits the Marsh Fritillary, but other butterflies there like the Brown Hairstreak.

Lawrie said: “Every year, we also do egg counts for the Brown Hairstreak and in the early 1990’s they were close to extinction in these parts.

“But last year we counted nearly 4000 eggs, which is proof that the habitat management carried out by volunteers really does work.”

If you would like to help, a work party is being held at Chambers Farm Wood on Sunday (January 25).

It runs from 10am until 4pm and all tools are provided, just contact the event leader Richard Davidson on 01522-525725 to confirm before travelling.

*Chambers Farm Nature Reserve is located on the site of a medieval woodland and is well known for its wide range of butterflies.

The 360-hectare (900-acre) beauty spot, near Wragby has been rated as one of the best Forestry Commission sites in the UK for its insect life. www.forestry.gov.uk

*Butterfly Conservation is the largest charity of its type in the world. Our aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats.

It runs conservation programmes for more than 100 threatened species and manages over 30 nature reserves.

Mre details from www.butterfly-conservation.org