Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Green Down Nature Reserve, near Somerton, supports one of the largest populations of the Large Blue butterfly in Europe. That is why Wessex Water’s Senior Ecologist Mark Doughty visited the Reserve with a £500 Wessex Watermark Award on Wednesday 12th October.
Left to Right Mark Green and Mark Doughty
The Watermark Award will help the Trust continue its programme of monitoring, researching and management advice on the East Polden hills which the Large Blue have colonised, since their successful re-introduction in 1992 to the Trust’s Green Down Nature Reserve.
The Large Blue has a unique and specialist lifecycle and is dependent on a particular red ant Myrmica sabuleti which exists only on short grass to maintain optimum temperature in its brood chamber. It is here in the ants’ brood chamber that the Large Blue’s caterpillar is nursed and will finally emerge above ground as an adult butterfly.
Somerset Wildlife Trust’s, Reserves Manager for South Somerset, Mark Green, had this to say:
“Somerset Wildlife Trust is delighted that Wessex Water are contributing £500 towards the cost of specialist survey and advisory work on its reserves this summer. Following the extinction of the Large Blue butterfly in the UK in 1979, a partnership of scientists, conservationists, local council and private land owners, supported by commercial companies and government agencies, have worked together to re-establish self-sustaining populations of Large Blues in the East Polden hills in Somerset and the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire. Despite this achievement, the partnership has found it increasing difficult to find funding to continue and develop the project in recent years. The Wessex Watermark Award means that we are able to continue the long run monitoring of the Large Blue populations this year and specialist management advice helps us maintain our reserves in good condition. Although there is still some surveying work still to do, early results indicate that this has been a good year for the Large Blue butterfly.”
The Watermark Award provides funds for environmental projects within the Wessex Water area. Now in its twenty-third year, it has supported over 900 environmental initiatives. Organised by The Conservation Foundation, all projects are judged by a panel chaired by its President - David Bellamy.