FOR THE BUTTERFLIES…
I will forever be grateful to butterflies for being such a huge source of inspiration, joy and meaning to me. When I became aware that many species were facing decline, I wanted to take positive action.
I got in touch with Butterfly Conservation to create two special edition Chiaras available now exclusively at sophiawebster.com and Saks Fifth Avenue. The sales of these will contribute to the charity’s Limestone Lepidoptera project, which conserves habitats and raises awareness of target species of butterflies and moths. – Sophia x 🦋
UPDATE FROM THE BUTTERFLY CONSERVATION
(17th June 2022)
The Limestone Lepidoptera Project is making great progress surveying and monitoring target species within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Thus far, have engaged with more than 900 people and increased rare species records from the Dales by over 2000! These results are being used to create maps showing species distributions, areas of important habitat while project staff have also been busy logging sites that support key plants required by our rarest butterflies and moths. This then enables us to target future survey work, to work with land managers to enhance the sites that they own through a landscape-scale approach while we also can (and do) raise public awareness of locations that they may visit and see some of these magnificent species.
Working together is key. Volunteers, landowners, partner organisations and – not least – funders have all played huge roles in delivering our three-year project. We have carried out more than 100 targeted surveys so far and, despite the complications of Covid-19, have gathered some brilliant results. One of our actions has been to undertake more research on some of the country’s rarest moths, about which very little is known. We have been incredibly lucky to have recruited some fantastic volunteers who have really gone the extra mile in surveying species such as Barred Tooth-striped, Yellow-ringed Carpet and Forester. We cannot thank them enough for their help.
Actions on selected species amongst our project’s target species are as follows:
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary: 90% of former sites re-surveyed. The species has apparently declined, in part through inappropriate management of sites. By working with partners we have been able to initiate improved management at some (Swarth Moor, Rise Hill Tunnel) and are currently undertaking a feasibility study to assess whether habitat at a further site, where the species went extinct some years ago, has improved sufficiently to warrant reintroduction of the beautiful and iconic species.
Northern Brown Argus: over 80 sites surveyed with timed butterfly counts and habitat assessments having been undertaken. Several previously unknown sites have been discovered in England’s most important landscape for this species.
Barred Tooth-striped moth: We have taken positive action to conserve this species, one of Yorkshire’s rarest moths. Previously known from only one Dales site, not only have we identified two more but our staff and volunteers have also successfully cultivated more than 300 Wild Privet plants. These have been planted out, again by volunteers, at several wooded sites and will hopefully help mitigate the impact of Ash Dieback disease upon the moth whose caterpillars depend upon two plants: young Ash trees and Wild Privet. Unfortunately, the first of these plants is being lost to disease while the second is absent from many Dales woodlands. By providing this secondary food source we hope to ensure that this moth both retains its tenuous foothold within the Dales landscape then spreads to new sites. Ongoing monitoring, again by volunteers, will establish whether our efforts have been successful and could then be replicated in other parts of the moth’s UK range where Ash dieback is equally problematic.
Yellow-ringed Carpet moth: Sterling work by our volunteers has provided a valuable insight into the ecology and behaviour of this nationally rare species. Not only have they provided the first records of the species for almost a decade, including from a site where it was assumed to have been lost many years previously, they have also identified methods that should improve detection during future surveys. It transpires that although the species is drawn to light (which was previously known), it avoids bright light typical of many modern moth traps (not previously known). So low voltage light traps are essential. Furthermore, traps must be set very close to the plant upon which its caterpillars feed (Mossy Saxifrage). It may simply be that the moth doesn’t fly far from where its needs are met. Armed with this improved knowledge, this summer our staff and volunteers will be targeting all the sites known to support this plant (locations of which have been previously mapped) in the hope that this rarest of moths is a little less rare than thought!
To keep up to date with everything that the Butterfly Conservation are doing be sure to follow their journey on their website here.