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Kent’s Heath Fritillary butterfly hit new highs in 2019 - Butterfly Conservation

Heath Fritillary (underwing) (image: Tamás Nestor via Butterfly Conservation)

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation has revealed that one of the UK’s rarest butterflies had an exceptional year in Kent in 2019.

The Heath Fritillary, which is found in only four locations in the UK, produced a stunning spectacle in Kent’s Blean Woods, north of Canterbury. This was one of the best years on record for this threatened butterfly, with 2,292 of them being recorded on single-day counts.

The butterfly’s success is down to the combined conservation efforts of a variety of organisations including the RSPB, Kent Wildlife Trust, Forestry Commission, private woodland owners and South East Water who also own part of the Blean complex.

Guided by the data collected by Butterfly Conservation these organisations have been managing the woodlands to encourage the spread of the Heath Fritillary’s foodplant, Cow-wheat, and also created open sunny areas where the adult butterfly can fly and flourish.

These efforts have helped to take Heath Fritillary numbers from once worrying lows to record numbers in 2019.

Reserve Warden Sam Richardson said: “2019 was a great season and truly felt like one of the best nature spectacles I have ever seen when the sun hit the woodland floor and the butterflies rose in their hundreds. The combination of perfect weather conditions and plenty of suitable habitat all contributed to the success.”

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