Save the Dukes of the North York Moors

by Butterfly Conservation in 

Save the Dukes of the North York Moors
We did it
On 27th February 2017 we successfully raised £9,763 with 455 supporters in 28 days

The Duke of Burgundy, one of our rarest butterflies, is in trouble. Help protect its future on the North York Moors.

by Butterfly Conservation in

New stretch target

Thank you for your generosity!

The extra money raised will allow us to expand the habitat management work to a wider area of the North York Moors, which could allow the Duke of Burgundy to expand it's range even farther. 

We couldn't do this work with your support, thank you.


The Duke of Burgundy is at risk of extinction. This butterfly has seen its populations plummet by 42%, disappearing from 84% of the sites where it could be found in the 1970s. The North York Moors is one of the few places this butterfly still calls home. But its future in the National Park is under threat. The only way we can save this struggling species is with urgent conservation intervention. 

An adult Duke of Burgundy only lives for five to seven days, with the first butterflies emerging from the end of April and the flight season ending mid-June. The very specific habitat requirements of this species are the reason for its scarcity. Duke of Burgundy caterpillars feed on Primrose and Cowslip. The female butterflies will only lay their eggs on large healthy plants, growing in tussocky vegetation in partial shade.  The butterfly will establish colonies in both limestone grassland and broadleaved woodland habitats but the right conditions for their long-term survival are hard to maintain. If a landscape is heavily grazed, the foodplants will usually be small and if it is not grazed, scrub will often dominate the site. In woodland, open sunny clearings are needed, requiring a continuous cycle of coppicing work. 

With your help we can fulfil the complex needs of the vulnerable Duke of Burgundy.

The Duke of Burgundy can be found in two distinct locations on the North York Moors, to the north of Pickering and to the north-west of Helmsley.  Our conservation work in Helmsley has seen amazing results, with the number of sites occupied by the butterfly increasing by six. But the Duke of Burgundy's presence in the Pickering area is at risk, with the butterfly only present at two sites, in worryingly low numbers.

Your donation could ensure the survival of this rare butterfly in the North York Moors.

We urgently need to commence work this year, to halt further declines and provide the right conditions for the few remaining butterflies to expand and establish new colonies. 

Please donate to fund:

  • A reintroduction of the Duke of Burgundy to Pexton Bank.
  • The removal of invasive scrub and bracken to allow caterpillar foodplants to flourish.
  • Coppicing in woodlands to create the sunlit clearings the butterfly needs to breed.
  • Training for volunteers to survey butterflies and carry out ongoing habitat maintenance.
  • Annual monitoring to ensure the long-term survival of the Duke of Burgundy.

If you make this work possible, other struggling butterflies including the Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Dingy Skipper will also benefit. The proposed conservation measures are also beneficial for birds such as the Tree Pipit, Wood Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher. People will be encouraged to get involved with the project, to engage with the natural environment and develop a better understanding of butterflies and other local wildlife.

Without your support there is a real risk of Pickering losing its butterflies for ever, which in turn threatens the Duke of Burgundy's presence in the North York Moors as a whole.

Please donate today to protect this rare butterfly.

This project will run in partnership with Natural England, Forestry Commission, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Yorkshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation.

All pledges to this project will be taken after the appeal closes on 27 February 2017.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£10 or more

£10 Reward

A beautiful Duke of Burgundy postcard.

£50 or more

£50 Reward

Receive an information pack on the Duke of Burgundy, to find out more about this complex butterfly.

£250 or more

£250 Reward

Receive a Duke of Burgundy information pack and the opportunity to visit the project site.

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