What a scorcher

Today all the volunteers and staff who will be at Collard Hill over the next month to meet you all and answer your questions met up to discuss the large blue, its ecology and our on-site management

Dave Simcox discussing large blue ecology wiith the team of volunteers

Even though this day last year we had only just seen the very first lone butterfly, today at Collard we are already seeing a handful of individuals right across the site. The slopes had an almost mediteranean feel in the mid-day heat and the blues along with most other butterflies when it gets that hot very sensibly take a lunchtime sieasta. Even more amazing given how early we are in the season we found eggs!

The slightly worrying side of this good emergence is that the wild thyme is only just beginning to emerge, therefore there is a tendency for several eggs to be laid on the limited amount of available thyme flowers.

Two large blue eggs on one thyme flower - 2 June 2011

Thanks to the insights from the research by CEH and Jeremy Thomas we now know that it is not good news if more than one caterpillar is  adopted by the same Myrmica ant colony, As Dave explained on-site there usually aren’t enough juicy ant grubs to go round and they can eat themselves completely out of food. Just one of the many fascinating details of the life cycle of this creature is that to avoid this doomed fate the carnivore caterpillar turns canabalistic if encountering a compatriot on the flowers! Better one living than two dead. Curiosuly it is usally the larger of the two caterpillars that becomes lunch.

There were the also first sightings of the first  marbled white – about two weeks earlier than in previous years.

A great day exploring the ecology and the background to the re-introduction project – thanks Dave

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