Wildlife lovers across Scotland’s towns and cities are being asked to look out for the country’s only widespread blue butterfly this summer, amidst fears it could be struggling.
The Common Blue has been in decline for the last 40 years across the UK, but a recent run of poor summers in Scotland may have caused populations to fall even further.
Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) is asking people across Scotland to take part in their Common Blue Survey.
BC Scotland’s Project Officer, Anthony McCluskey, said: “Sightings can be entered from anywhere in Scotland and we would especially like to hear from people living in cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, where we know the butterfly is found but we don’t have many records.
“Sending in your sightings will help us to understand more about the places this butterfly lives and where we might need to do more conservation work to help it.
“The results will feed straight into our Urban Butterfly Project, so we can start making a difference for this butterfly right away.”
BC’s ‘Urban Butterfly Project’ was launched in 2016 and thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage, has been encouraging people across Scotland to engage with butterflies and help with conservation work to reverse declines.
Anthony added: “In Glasgow, BC volunteers are already doing what they can to help the Common Blue by growing Birds-foot Trefoil – the food plant of the butterfly’s caterpillar – and planting it all around the city.
“If we know more about where the butterfly is found, we could do similar things in other towns and cities too.”
The main flight period of the Common Blue in Scotland is from early June through to early September.
BC has more than 2000 members living in Scotland www.butterfly-conservation.org/scotland where we work closely with local communities, landowners, the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage and other conservation partners, to safeguard Scotland’s butterflies, moths and their habitats. We do this by:
- Advising landowners on managing land for butterflies and moths.
- Carrying out surveys, monitoring and research on our most threatened species.
- Training volunteers to enable them to take action for butterflies and moths.
- Making recommendations to the Scottish Government on its environmental policies.
- Encouraging everyone to cherish and enjoy butterflies and moths.
About the Urban Butterfly Project:
HLF contributed £57,000 to the Urban Butterfly Project and SNH contributed £22,985.
The heritage focus of this project is the much-loved butterfly fauna of Central Scotland and its habitats. There are 32 resident species of butterfly in Scotland, of which 12 are Priority Species under the UKBAP and the Scottish Biodiversity List (SBL). Over the past three decades 22 (69%) of Scotland’s native butterflies have declined in range. Several of the UK’s rarest butterflies including the Grayling, Large Heath and Small Blue, can be found in Central Scotland, but they have been badly affected by habitat loss and unsympathetic management. Even formerly common species such as Common Blue, Small Heath and Small Copper are also declining rapidly.