Saturday, 21 March 2015

Rare continental butterfly survives UK winter for first time

The scarce tortoiseshell has overwintered in Britain for the first time leading conservationists to hope the butterfly could also breed here for the first time this year

Thursday 19 March 2015 16.32 GMT

Photograph: Alamy
A rare continental butterfly which until last summer had only once before been seen in Britain has survived the winter, raising hopes it will breed here for the first time.

The scarce tortoiseshell (Nymphalis xanthomelas) was spotted in unprecedented numbers in Kent, Lincolnshire, Suffolk and Norfolk last summer, after flying through Holland on a long migration from eastern Europe.

One of the butterflies was seen again over two days last week in Holt country park, Norfolk, a sign it successfully hibernated over winter.

According to Butterfly Conservation’s head of monitoring, Dr Tom Brereton, the woods near Holt provide suitable conditions for the butterfly, which feeds on sap from birch trees in the spring and lays eggs on willows.

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