July and August 2010

Sarah Meredith trying to capture caterpillar adoption - David Simcox July 2010

 Hello All,

Sarah the Large Blue warden here, we thought we would update you on the goings on over the past few months. Well what has happened since the Large Blue stopped flying and the caterpillars have gone underground? Well as some of you may have seen in the Guardian newspaper (Butterflies: out of the Blue) back in July or heard on Radio 4 (14 September 2010) an experimental reintroduction programme concerning the Large Blue has begun in the Cotswolds. Some of the donor eggs for the re-introduction were collected from Collard Hill while we were undertaking the egg count surveys. Green Down, a Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve also allowed us to collect eggs and larvae for the re-introduction.  Needless to say the whole experiment has been implemented with the approval of  Butterfly Conservation and Natural England and its Licensing Team.

To be able to use Collard as a donor site is a brilliant feeling it shows just how far the site has come since the re- introduction in 2000 when 267 larvae were introduced. With approximately 1300 adults flying on Collard this year, this site is going from strength to strength.

As I said in my last blog post at the beginning of July my journey with the Large Blue didn’t stop when I left Collard Hill and Somerset. I moved on to the Cotswolds to help David Simcox with the re-introduction project which involved rearing the collected eggs and caterpillars to a stage where they were ready to be released and adopted by the red ants.  It was a great privilege for me to be involved with the rearing and release of the caterpillars, to be able to witness the caterpillars reaching their fourth instar stage and watch the adoption by the red ants (Myrmica sabuleti) was just mind blowing. It is something I never thought I would see in my life, having watched the Large Blue adults on Collard Hill during the full flight period I started to feel like a protective parent and having the knowledge that some of their young are hopefully going to initiate a colony in the Cotswolds brings a huge smile to my face and the rest will continue their life cycle helping Collard Hill have another successful year in 2011.

Large Blue caterpillar (4th instar stage) - Sarah Meredith July 2010

For now all we can do is wait and see what emerges next year come late May or early June so please keep your fingers crossed. For me personally my adventure with the Large Blue finishes for now and I am off to Australia to help carry out research into tree and marsh frogs in New South Wales for 3 months. I will be radio tracking frogs, carrying out tadpole surveys and learning their whole ecology plus hopefully seeing a wide variety of wildlife and butterflies!!

I hope my adventure with the Large Blue is just going into hibernation and will begin again with the emergence of the Large Blue next year.

Large Blue Open Wings - 9th June 2010 Sarah Meredith

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About largebluewarden

I am the Large Blue warden for Collard Hill, and will be on site Wednesday through to Sunday with other volunteers. I graduated in December 2009 from Reading University, with an MSc in Wildlife Management and Conservation. Before coming to Glastonbury to work with the Large Blue, I was carrying out research into the Glanville Fritillary on the Isle of Wight. While my thesis for my Msc was looking at ‘The habitat requirements of the Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus in the uplands’. Butterflies and photography are my passion and I am looking forward to a great flight season on Collard Hill and hope to meet many of you who are reading this blog.

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