Neil Parish, has ‘adopted’ one of the UK’s most threatened butterflies in a bid to help boost its numbers.
The nationally scarce Marsh Fritillary is in decline across Europe, but can be found in small numbers across Devon, including on Dartmoor. The butterfly can be identified by its colourful wings, which are far brighter than other fritillary butterflies. The upper wings are reddish-orange, with yellow or white patches and black veins. It is also the only fritillary to have a row of black dots around the bottom edge on both sides of the hindwing, but none on the forewing.
Mr Parish visited the national park after becoming a ‘Species Champion’ for the rare butterfly. He said:
“I am thrilled to be working with Butterfly Conservation (BC) to raise the profile of the Marsh Fritillary and I’m hoping that by being a ‘Species Champion’ I can contribute to securing its future."
“During my visit I was able to see Marsh Fritillary caterpillars and the amazing webs they spin to protect themselves. It was also extremely valuable to find out what needs to be done with the surrounding land to help this butterfly thrive.”
BC’s Conservation Officer, Rachel Jones, joined Mr Parish on Dartmoor. She said:
“The role of the ‘Species Champion’ is to promote good land management for the selected species and to raise the profile of wildlife in Parliament. The Marsh Fritillary has declined across the UK by 62% in the last 10 years and although BC’s conservation work on Dartmoor has led to an increase in the number of caterpillar webs found there most years, experts are concerned about a drop in butterfly numbers this year."