Saving the Small Blue

Wildlife enthusiasts in Warwickshire are celebrating the start of a pioneering project to help the reverse the fortune of the rare Small Blue butterfly. Butterfly Conservation will be restoring flower-rich grassland on 15 new sites, helping butterflies and other wildlife to thrive in the county.

The Small Blue, as its name suggests, is the smallest of the UK's blue butterflies. Numbers have plummeted in recent years due to the loss of chalk grassland habitats.

The Small Blue butterfly feeds on Kidney Vetch plants, which only grow on poor nutrient, alkaline (limey) soils. In Warwickshire it is clinging to survival at three sites around Southam, all of which are active or former quarries.

The creation of new habitat within flying distance of existing butterfly colonies is the only way to help the dwindling population of butterflies spread and expand.

Jane Ellis, Butterfly Conservation's regional officer, is leading the project. She said: "It is tremendously exciting - over the next three years restoration works will help many rare insects, butterflies and moths as well as the Small Blue itself.

"The habitats around Southam are some of the richest places for wildlife in the West Midlands. Many local wildlife experts have been trying to get help for these important sites for many years. Our project will provide new homes for wildlife and give local people the opportunity to enjoy them."

Keen volunteers are needed to help with site works such as clearing scrub, planting wildflowers and helping to monitor the butterfly population. Full training will be provided.

For more information about the Small Blue and how you can become involved please contact Jane Ellis on 01788 510695.