Thursday, 2 April 2015

UK's most endangered butterfly back from the brink

The critically endangered high brown fritillary had its best summer in a decade in 2014, with numbers rising 180% in a year thanks to conservation efforts

Thursday 2 April 2015 06.01 BST
Last modified on Thursday 2 April 201509.28 BST

The most endangered butterfly in Britain enjoyed its best summer for a decade last year after highly focused conservation efforts on its 30 remaining sites.

Numbers of the critically endangered high brown fritillary increased by 180% last year compared with 2013 according to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS), with warm spring weather also helping its caterpillars survive.

Its recovery, which builds on an increase in numbers in 2013, raises hopes that this large, dynamic butterfly is no longer heading towards extinction.

As recently as 50 years ago, the high brown fritillary was a common sight in large woods across England and Wales. In recent decades, lepidopterists have puzzled over its dramatic disappearance, fearing it would become the first butterfly species to fall extinct in Britain since the large blue was lost in 1979.

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