Butterfly Conservation has recorded over 40 sightings of the rare Downland Plume moth in an area of the Chilterns in recent months.

The Downland Plume was previously found across parts of southern England but was presumed extinct in the UK after an absence of sightings for nearly 50 years.

The moth was rediscovered in 2013 in the Chilterns, but only a few records had subsequently been reported until this year, when Butterfly Conservation volunteers discovered strong numbers at Winchester Wood in Buckinghamshire.

During a survey, members of the Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation, counted 16 of the tiny, day-flying moths in a single hour.

Sue Taylor, an active volunteer for the Upper Thames Branch, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to see this incredibly rare moth doing so well in the region and to have found good numbers at Winchester Wood. We have been involved in conservation management and surveying at the site for nearly eight years, and this success just shows how much of an impact supporters and volunteers have through the work they make possible.”

The site, which is owned by Thames Water, is a mix of woodland and chalk grassland where Butterfly Conservation carries out work to remove scrub and dense grass to allow butterfly and moth species to thrive.

Another rare species, the Duke of Burgundy butterfly, has been expanding from a site nearby, and the team hope that it too might take up residence and begin breeding at Winchester Wood.

Sue Taylor continued: “We will continue to carefully manage and monitor the area and hope we will see further positive outcomes for some of the UK’s most threatened butterflies and moths.”

Find out more about Butterfly Conservation’s work here