New book charts 'homecoming' of Scottish borders butterflies

The first book devoted to the butterflies of the Scottish Borders describes the return of three natives, the Orange-tip, Comma and Speckled Wood - as well as the mixed fortunes of the other 31 species recorded there.

The beautiful and unmistakeable Orange-tip is one of the first signs of spring and is now found throughout the Borders. Although recorded by the very early naturalists, there were no sightings at all between 1897 and 1970.

Several other species are now much more common than they were, such as the Peacock and Ringlet. This is thought to be due to climate change.

Sadly some former species (such as the Marsh Fritillary) are unlikely to ever return, as the specialised habitats they need are no longer present, due primarily to intensive land-use.

The Butterfly Atlas of the Scottish Borders also tells the story of butterfly recording, initiated by the country's first natural history society, the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club in 1831.

Harestanes Visitor Centre, the former location of the Scottish Borders Biological Records Centre, was the venue for the book launch, funded by Butterfly Conservation's East Scotland Branch, Scottish Natural Heritage, Awards for All and Scottish Borders Council.

Richard Buckland, Chairman of Butterfly Conservation's East Scotland Branch, said: "An army of dedicated volunteers have produced remarkable and scientific data which will be used to monitor the health of our environment. Their contribution is hugely important."

Volunteers co-ordinated by Butterfly Conservation collect a vast amount of information on butterfly and moth numbers each year. The Scottish Government and others use this information to monitor environmental change.