Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Black hairstreaks found miles from their heartland

This rare species was only discovered in 1828. Now the population is enjoying a boom

Fri 29 Jun 2018 21.30 BSTLast modified on Fri 29 Jun 201822.56 BST

The black hairstreak is a dark, elusive and rather plain little butterfly. And yet it inspires great passion, and not just because of its rarity.

There’s something deeply restful and lovely about this midsummer insect, especially when it lets you creep close and admire it sunning itself on blackthorn.

It only flies for a couple of weeks in June, and guidebooks say it is only found in middle England woodlands, roughly between Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire.

But this butterfly has bamboozled experts since it was belatedly discovered in 1828 and this June has seen a glorious population explosion. Black hairstreaks have been discovered on many new sites, including miles from their heartland – in East Sussex.

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