NATURE lovers in and around Montrose are currently supporting a survey of the UK’s smallest butterfly, the Small Blue.
The butterfly once had colonies stretching along large sections of the Scottish coastline, as well as many inland colonies on flower-rich grassland and river shingle.
It even successfully colonised many ‘brownfield’ sites such as disused railway lines and quarries and its presence is determined by its sole caterpillar foodplant, Kidney Vetch.
While many colonies have been lost due to pastures being ‘improved’ for agriculture and the redevelopment of brownfield sites, there are still a few left along the Angus coastline.
The Small Blue is now on the UK’s Red List of species at risk and on the UK and Tayside Biodiversity Action Plans. It favours wild, uncultivated places, is often reluctant to stray far from its origin but can be easily be overlooked as it does not frequent gardens and is threatened by changes to the countryside which may unwittingly destroy the habitats it needs.
Co-ordinated through the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership and Butterfly Conservation Scotland, the volunteer survey aims to form a more accurate picture of the butterfly’s current distribution as well as that of its foodplant, Kidney Vetch. The exercise is being.
Once an accurate picture of its distribution has been built up, steps will be taken to ensure that landowners, coastal path and other site managers, planning authorities – and guidance will then be provided on good habitat management.
Catherine Lloyd, Tayside Biodiversity co-ordinator, said; “Future plans will include working with local landowners and other site managers to ensure the remaining colonies prosper, and hopefully there will be opportunities to encourage its spread to other suitable habitats.”