Look out for the blue butterflies in the summer
The long stretch of warm weather has brought a bumper year for many butterfly species, particularly the uncommon Silver Studded Blue found around the cliffs of Bolt Head near Salcombe.
Michael Brooking, who has monitored the colony for many years, commented: ‘These have been perfect conditions for the butterfly: the combination of a proper cold winter which reduced the overwintering eggs being eaten by predators, a wet spring which brought plenty of plant growth for the caterpillars to feed on, followed by hot weather encouraging the adults to fly and feed on the bell heather and thyme.’
Michael regularly checks the colonies, which are spread throughout the sheltered lower cliffs around Bolt Head, and has found over double the usual numbers of this beautiful insect.
Emma Reece, Area Ranger is very happy. ‘We are so pleased the Silver Studded Blue is having a good year. Numbers have been healthy in recent years but the amount we have seen this year is amazing. We have been working hard with our tenant farmer Graham Lethbridge to manage the coastal slopes, improving their condition through grazing and keeping the scrubby gorse and brambles under control so that wild flowers can thrive and provide nectar and cover for insects like butterflies.’
The Bolt Head to Bolt Tail area near Salcombe is part of a nationwide National Trust programme to significantly improve land, including tenant farms, for the benefit of nature. In this case, both the weather and an improved wildlife-rich habitat have helped the Silver Studded Blue.