Prime time for butterflies

DUNWICH Heath has been named by the National Trust as the top coastal site in eastern England for seeing butterflies.

The conservation charity is one of this region’s major landowners. Stuart Warrington, the trust’s nature conservation advisor for the east of England, said: “Butterflies are incredible insects and it isn’t hard to love them. Every year when the temperatures rise and they begin emerging as fresh adults it just lifts your spirits to see them flying around you, feeding on flowers like a busy rabble of small stained glass windows.

“In July and August butterfly populations peak, both in terms of numbers and different species you can see, so this is the best time to go looking for them.”

Awash with colour in high summer, Dunwich Heath is a precious example of prime heath habitat for butterflies. With plenty of purple heather and vivid yellow gorse for the adults to feed on the heath attracts its own set of butterflies and is a perfect place for a walk and picnic lunch to enjoy them.” Look out for species such as the small heath, the small copper and the wall brown, a striking orange butterfly with dark markings.

MEANWHILE, butterfly numbers are declining all over the world, according to the famous wildlife expert and television presenter, Sir David Attenborough.


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Their disappearance is, he says, a clear indication that something is going very wrong in the global environment.

“Butterflies are sensitive indicators. They decline when habitats are destroyed and when man harms the environment. We have known about butterfly losses in Britain for more than 50 years. Now there is mounting evidence that it is a global problem.”

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Butterfly Conservation, the UK-based conservation charity, has this year published a new “red list” of European butterflies suggesting that about 120% of species are facing extinction. This year is the deadline set in 2002 for halting the loss of biodiversity, the UK range of species. While the target will not be met, most conservationists believe that efforts have not been in vain and that good results have been attained in trying to save some species.

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