Surveys by Jeremy Thomas from Oxford University and David Simcox of CEH in the 1990s had identified that the key conditions were in place for the large blue to prosper at Collard – south facing warm slope, pervasive wild thyme and an abundance of the rare red ant Myrmica sabuleti. In 2000 CEH introduced 267 large blue larvae to Collard from the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s reserve of Green Down also on the Polden Hills.
The first emergence in 2001 was great a start. However, the road to success is rarely straight and the first few years were a rocky ride with the future in the balance in 2005.
Since then the grazing has been radically changed with different stock (cattle and ponies), a new ridge fence and trough to focus the animals on the slope.
With a lot of help from the farmers this has paid great dividends: numbers have increased sharply year on year for the last four years with over 20,000 eggs laid in 2009. The site this season has again been well grazed and all the omens point to a very promising emergence in 2010. Fingers crossed!