Ranger Emma tells us about butterflies on Arnside Knott

High Brown Fritillary Butterly

As the days get warmer and the flowers and leaves start bursting open, we start to see and hear the insect world coming to life on Arnside Knott.

Between April and September the rangers on Arnside Knott are busy surveying for one insect in particular – the butterfly.


Each week when the conditions are right (100% sun, over 14 degrees and preferably little wind) the rangers and their dedicated team of volunteers walk a set route, known as a transect, of 3.5km around Arnside Knott. 


Notebook in one hand and net in the other, they log the butterflies they see within 5 metres of the transect route.


'We net some of the butterflies to help us identify the tricky ones which move too fast, like Fritillaries,' says Ranger Emma.


'It helps us get a closer look at them when they are still and they fly out again within seconds.'


Arnside Knott is a special place for wildlife. It brings together species which are at their most northern limit in the country and those which are at their most southern limit. So it is a meeting point for wildlife which doesn’t exist elsewhere.


Butterflies are no exception. The rare Scotch Argus spends all of its time in Scotland with only two sites in England providing the right kind of habitat – Arnside Knott being one.


The same transect route has been walked by rangers on Arnside Knott for the last 27 years giving an ongoing picture and pattern of how butterfly numbers have changed over that time.


'It’s not that the butterflies are more important than any other wildlife on the Knott' adds Emma.


'It’s the fact that they are indicator species for all the other wildlife too. If the butterflies are doing well then we know everything else is doing well too.'


So next time you visit Arnside Knott on a warm bright day look out for the butterflies that are flitting around, enjoying the sunshine – there will be a ranger close by with a notebook!