Somerset Wildlife Trust has launched an urgent county-wide appeal to raise £20,000 and give a threatened butterfly a new beginning in 2012.
The number of places where the rare Chalkhill Blue butterfly can be seen in Somerset have almost halved, in recent years. As the county’s leading environmental charity we are urging local people to support a project to help this beautiful butterfly’s survival.
The Mendip Hills
The Mendip Hills are one of only a handful of strongholds for the rare Chalkhill Blue butterfly in the UK. These limestone grasslands are ideal places for Horseshoe Vetch to grow - the only plant that Chalkhill Blue caterpillars eat. In a challenging agricultural environment, though, this vital food plant is being lost and with it the butterflies.
An iconic butterfly
Michele Bowe, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Mendip Hills Living Landscape Manager said: “The Chalkhill Blue butterfly is an iconic species of Mendip’s limestone grasslands and to focus efforts on the butterfly in 2012 we need to raise £20,000.
“To avoid localised extinctions in an already fragile population we need to create more of the habitat the Chalkhill Blue needs. This will help the butterfly colonise new areas and spread across the Mendip Hills once more.”
Creating new habitats
Scientific research shows that if suitable habitat is created, or restored, close to existing butterfly populations, the Chalkhill Blue will naturally colonise it. The Trust has already identified 396 hectares - an area almost twice the size of Shepton Mallet - of limestone grassland in need of conservation restoration or management across Mendip.