One of the UK’s most threatened butterflies has seen a big increase in numbers at the Mabie Forest near Dumfries, Butterfly Conservation can reveal.
Scientists from the wildlife charity have confirmed that numbers of the rare Pearl-bordered Fritillary are now six times what they were in the forest 10 years ago, with more than 200 butterfly sightings recorded last year alone.
This is highly significant because since the 1950’s, numbers of the butterfly in other parts of the UK have declined severely.
The Pearl-bordered Fritillary can be identified by its distinctive orange and yellow hindwing, which has a border of silver ‘pearls’. The butterfly needs sheltered, sunny, warm habitats that have plenty violets – the food plant for the caterpillar and most sites will be found in woodland glades, along woodland tracks or the forest edge.
Paul Kirkland, Director of Butterfly Conservation Scotland said: “The Mabie Pearl-bordered Fritillary colony is by far the largest in the south of Scotland, the nearest good-sized colonies being in Highland Perthshire, Argyll and the English Midlands. The management implemented at Mabie will also benefit many other species such as bees, hoverflies and beetles”.
Tony Lightley, Forestry Commission Scotland Environment & Heritage Manager in Dumfries & Borders Forest District, said: “It is very satisfying that years of careful habitat management have allowed this butterfly to take advantage of the recent run of favourable spring weather, boosting its population.”
The Pearl-bordered Fritillary can be seen in the Mabie Forest from now until the end of June.
Mabie Forest nature reserve lies at the heart of Mabie Forest and is 100 hectares of open woodland and grassland managed jointly by Forestry Commission Scotland and Butterfly Conservation. The reserve’s butterflies have been closely monitored for 19 years as part of the world-leading UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.