Large heath butterfly reintroduced at Heysham Moss

Large heath butterfly Butterflies were bred at the zoo before being released at Heysham Moss

Related Stories

A rare butterfly that had been missing from a nature reserve for more than a century has been reintroduced to the site.

The large heath butterfly has been brought back to Heysham Moss in Lancashire where it was last recorded at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Chester Zoo are repopulating the reserve using insects from nearby Winmarleigh Moss.

Butterflies were bred at the zoo before being released at Heysham Moss.

Return of the large heath

Hare's tail cotton grass
  • Large heath butterflies need two plants in abundance in order to thrive, hare's tail cotton grass and cross-leaved heath
  • The cotton grass provides food for the butterfly's caterpillars, while the heath is the main nectar source for the adult insect
  • Land management work at Heysham has meant both plants are now present in sufficient quantities to support the species

Source: Lancashire Wildlife Trust

The zoo's biodiversity officer Sarah Bird said it had been "fascinating" to follow the butterfly's life cycle.

"We're extremely pleased that the pupae we have so carefully reared are now hatching at Heysham Moss, their new home," she said.

The Wildlife Trust's North Lancashire Reserves manager Reuben Neville added: "The large heath butterfly was formerly much more widespread in North West England, inhabiting lowland raised bog and occasionally blanket bog habitats.

"Now extinct in Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, it hangs on in just two widely separated sites in Lancashire."

Extensive habitat management was undertaken by the trust, which purchased Heysham Moss in 2004, to ensure the reserve provides sufficient support for the butterflies.

Heysham Moss is a peat bog which is home to a wide range of plants and animals.

Much of the site is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More England stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cerro RicoSatanic mines

    Devil worship in the tunnels of the man-eating mountain

  • Nefertiti MenoeWar of words

    The woman who sparked a row over 'speaking white'

  • Oil pumpPump change

    What would ending the US oil export ban do to petrol prices?

  • Brazilian Scene, Ceara, in 1893Sir Snapshot

    19th Century Brazil seen through the eyes of an Englishman

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SailingGame on

    BBC Capital discovers why certain sports seem to have a special appeal for those with deep pockets


  • European Union's anti-terrorism chief Gilles de KerchoveHARDtalk Watch

    Anti-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove on the threat from returning Islamic State fighters

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.