The beautiful rolling Polden Hills in Somerset provide sanctuary to a diverse range of wildlife, including two of our most threatened butterflies, the Large Blue and the Brown Hairstreak. The Large Blue has already been declared extinct once before in the UK and remains our rarest butterfly. The elusive Brown Hairstreak has declined by 49% since the 1970s.
In Somerset we are working together with partners to secure their long-term future. The Large Blue is prospering in the county following years of work. The Brown Hairstreak needs sensitive management of its hedgerow habitat in order to increase its numbers. With your help we can secure a brighter future for them.
The Brown Hairstreak breeds on Blackthorn in hedgerows and along woodland edges. Good hedgerow management, which incorporates the needs of the butterfly, will increase its numbers and the breeding area, providing a more stable environment. The Large Blue has very specific habitat requirements and an extremely complex life cycle. The caterpillars feed on Wild Thyme and Wild Marjoram but plants are not the only nourishment they require. Large Blue caterpillars disguise themselves as ant grubs in order to trick a particular species of red ant into carrying them into their underground nests, where they feed on the ant grubs before pupating. In order for the Large Blue to thrive, the perfect conditions are needed for both the butterfly and the ant.
Your donations will help us reach new people in the local area, teaching them about these fascinating butterflies, and why they are so important. It will ensure volunteers are trained in practical tasks, such as scrub clearance and hedge laying, creating a safer long term future for the Brown Hairstreak and Large Blue.
The Large Blue project is underpinned by science and carried out by a collaborative partnership between Butterfly Conservation, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, J&F Clark Trust, National Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural England, NetworkRail, Royal Entomological Society, Somerset Wildlife Trust, South Somerset District Council, Spalding Associates and the University of Oxford.
This project offers rewards in return for your donation.