Finally, some great news! After years of landscape preparation, the endangered large blue butterfly was reintroduced into Rodborough Common, in Gloucestershire, southwest England.
Last year conservationists released about 1,100 larvae to the region after meticulously planning the landscape for the butterflies’ return.
The scheme is the largest ever successful reintroduction of the large blue butterflies in the UK.
In 1979 the species was declared extinct in Britain. It was first reintroduced from populations on the continent almost 40 years ago.
The globally endangered creatures with a wingspan of more than two inches have an exceptional life cycle.
The essential solution to the project’s success was to control the red ant “myrmica sabuleti” population. The ants encourage the growth of wild marjoram and thyme on which the butterfly feeds and lays its eggs.
Research ecologist David Simcox said that in summer, when the ants are out foraging, nature performs a trick where the ants get deceived into thinking that the butterfly’s larva is one of theirs and carries it to their nest. Therefore the ants are crucial to the large blue butterflies.
At this point is where the caterpillar turns from herbivore to carnivore feeding on the ants’ grub until it is ready to pupate and emerge.
Richard Evans, an area ranger for the commons, said, that the butterflies are sensitive creatures. With the large blue’s particular specifications, they are real weather gauges for what is happening with our environment and the changing climate.
Probably the most significant legacies of the reintroduction are the power of striving together to reverse the deterioration of threatened species and the benefit the habitat enhancements will have for other plants, birds, insects, and bats on the commons.
Butterflies are insects in the macrolepidopteran clade Rhopalocera from the class of Lepidoptera, which also includes moths. Adult butterflies have large and are often brightly colored with wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight.
Some cultures associate butterflies with souls. Globally people view butterflies as representing change, hope, life, and endurance.