South Scotland

Pearl-bordered fritillary numbers at Mabie Forest rise

Butterflies Image copyright Geoff Hiscocks

One of the UK's most threatened butterflies has seen a big increase in numbers in southern Scotland.

Butterfly Conservation revealed the rise in pearl-bordered fritillary numbers at Mabie Forest near Dumfries.

Scientists from the wildlife charity said numbers were now six times higher than 10 years ago.

Butterfly Conservation said this was "highly significant" since numbers had declined severely since the 1950s in other parts of the UK.

The pearl-bordered fritillary can be identified by its distinctive orange and yellow hindwing, which has a border of silver "pearls".

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Media captionBBC Scotland's Debbie Muir joins the people hunting a threatened butterfly species

The butterfly needs sheltered, sunny, warm habitats that have plenty of violets - the food plant for the caterpillar - and most sites will be found in woodland glades, along woodland tracks or the forest edge.

Paul Kirkland, director of Butterfly Conservation Scotland, said: "The Mabie pearl-bordered fritillary colony is by far the largest in the south of Scotland, the nearest good-sized colonies being in Highland Perthshire, Argyll and the English Midlands.

"The management implemented at Mabie will also benefit many other species such as bees, hoverflies and beetles".

Tony Lightley, Forestry Commission Scotland environment and heritage manager, said: "It is very satisfying that years of careful habitat management have allowed this butterfly to take advantage of the recent run of favourable spring weather, boosting its population."

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