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Saving the Wood White butterfly in the South East
The Wood White butterfly is one of the UK’s rarest and most threatened species. In South East England there is just one surviving colony – on the Surrey/Sussex border.
The woodlands, edges and verges between Chiddingfold, Dunsfold and Plaistow form a key area, being home to 20% of the Wood White’s entire UK distribution.
- Increase the distribution and abundance, and robustness of this last remaining Wood White colony in South East England;
- Increase recording and monitoring of Wood White and other butterflies in this landscape;
- Inspire a long-term legacy of habitat creation and enhancement;
- Deliver valuable research on habitat creation and the dispersal and colonisation potential of Wood White.
How we will do this
The project will create a total of 3km of new butterfly-friendly wildflower strips across this west Weald landscape. We will target woods, edges and fields around and between existing Wood White areas. We’ll work with the Woodland Trust, National Trust, Forestry England, private landowners and garden owners to achieve this. Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst will help us to develop a seed mix of crucial plants. They will also provide training in seed collection and care. Ground will be prepared by specialist contractors. Volunteers can also get involved by collecting and sowing seed, propagating and plug-planting, and delivering practical habitat enhancements. Then the volunteers can help to monitor the butterfly areas to provide valuable feedback on their success and value.
How to get involved
The Project Officer Fiona Haynes from Butterfly Conservation would love to hear from anyone who wishes to get involved with the project. You could help manage and create Wood White habitat on volunteer tasks, help with seed collection or propagation, or learn more about butterflies and bees on training workshops. Equally you may have a garden you wish to enhance for pollinators, or own some land where the project can get involved. Please contact Fiona- firstname.lastname@example.org or07483 039323. Work for the Wood White butterfly will also help many other invertebrates and have knock-on positive effects on the local biodiversity in general. You can be added to a mailing list to get invites to events, or join Facebook page Wealden Wood Whites.
About the Wood White butterfly
This charismatic little butterfly looks similar to our more common white butterflies but behaves in a quite unique way. It has a light, gentle flight over the tops of grasses whilst it looks for the special foodplants (Vetches) on which it relies. Its courtship ritual is a delicate hypnotic ritual of waved antennae, clapping and even licking – a wonder to watch!
This rapidly declining species used to be found across much of southern England and into eastern Wales but its distribution has declined by more than 65% since the 1970’s.
The project will deliver an inspiring and engaging programme of habitat creation and enhancement that will help many rare and threatened butterflies and moths. Our project will aim to help the following key species...
- Wood White
- Grizzled Skipper
- White Admiral
- Wider countryside butterflies including Small Tortoiseshell and Small Copper
- Anania funebris (White-spotted Sable moth)
- Coleophera wockeella (Betony Case-bearer)
- Drab Looper moth
- Bees and other pollinators
- Grass Snake
- Common Lizard
We can monitor the butterfly and moth populations as the project progresses, also bees and other wildlife. Bee and Reptile experts will offer training for volunteers. IN addition to saving the Wood White in this landscape, the project will enhance our understanding of the Wood White and its dispersal and colonisation ability. This will provide valuable information that can help to save the Wood White across the UK. We also hope the project will inspire much more habitat creation, both locally and further afield.
When will this happen?...
The project will begin in October 2019 and run for three years (to 2022).
Our project is being delivered in partnership with…
- Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank
- The Forestry England
- The National Trust
- The Woodland Trust
- The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust