Trust’s link-up with Kew offers hope for endangered butterfly
Specialists from Kew and Durham Wildlife Trust are working together to help save the endangered small pearl bordered fritillary butterfly in County Durham.
17 Oct 2011
The small pearl bordered fritillary (Image: Tom Marshall)
About the project
Kew is working as project partners with Durham Wildlife Trust (DWT) in an attempt to grow 20,000 marsh violet plants, the food plant of the larvae of the small pearl-bordered fritillary. With only six small colonies currently known within the county, this is County Durham’s rarest breeding butterfly.
Marsh violet (Image: Vicky Nall)
Dr Viswambharan Sarasan, Head of Conservation Biotechnology, who is leading this project at Kew says “This is an exciting restoration initiative we are proud to be partnering with DWT. We are micropropagating marsh violet from genetically diverse stocks in the Durham area to be used to rescue this rare butterfly.”
Hope for new colonies
The experts involved in the project, focused around the villages of Satley and Waskerley in the Heart of Durham area, hope that planting thousands of the food plants near the existing butterfly habitats will allow the insects to spread out and form new colonies.
“The butterfly is one of our most endangered creatures and the work with Kew offers us hope that we can bring about a revival of its fortunes" explains Sarah Edwards, the Trust’s Heart of Durham project officer. "The plants supplied by Kew will play a major role in the success of the Heart of Durham small pearl-bordered fritillary project over the next few years.”
The plant-growing stage of the project will take three years after which the food plants will be moved to suitable locations to encourage the butterfly to spread.
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