Hand-rescue of 500 Small Blue butterflies halts site development

More than 500 rare caterpillars have been hand-rescued from the English quarry they inhabit before redevelopment began at the site.

The Small Blue butterfly

The Small Blue butterfly Image by Tony Hisgett / CC BY 2.0

The hand rescue came just before the caterpillars are due to metamorphosise into one of the rarest butterflies in Britain – the Small Blue.

The London Independent reports that Amanda Hunter, 59, spent hours painstakingly following this small breed at the abandoned quarry in Devon.

The Torbay areas is a mecca for the Small Blues around its cliffs and quarries. However, the fluctuation in numbers depends on the weather conditions and the availability of kidney vetch, which is the food caterpillars feed on.

Ms Hunter convinced both planners and the site’s owner to delay their work for a period. This was to give the caterpillars sufficient time to come out of hibernation, pupate and emerge as butterflies.

Ms Hunter, a member of the local branch of Butterfly Conservation, said she wanted to ensure that this special butterfly could continue to thrive.

She stressed that wildlife habitat was being lost to industry too easily, adding that helping local species like the Small Blue Butterflies doesn’t have to necessarily involve difficult decisions.

It won’t be known for sure if the translocation has been successful until later this summer but it was hoped Ms Hunter’s action would help the numbers to bloom. She won a Butterfly Conservation Outstanding Volunteer Award following her attempts to save the butterfly colony.

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