Butterflies in the Derbyshire Dales

11 August 2011

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Peacock butterfly. Copyright © Lynne Kirton, August 2011.Peacock butterfly. Copyright © Lynne Kirton, August 2011.

Butterflies are all the rage in Lathkill Dale, part of Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve near Bakewell.  Visit the meadows at the top of the dale on a warm day and you can’t miss the Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, similar species which can be told apart by the number of white dots on their eyespots.  Continue down the spectacular rocky valley to the woodlands in the lower part of the dale to find the Speckled Wood and perhaps the spectacular Red Admiral and Peacock.

These butterflies share the dale with the grasses and flowers on which they lay their eggs and the birds such as Redstart and Wheatear which might turn out to be their predators.  Also present are some of the thousands of people who visit the valley every year, ranging from hardened walkers to families taking part in the ‘Wild Wednesdays’ being run on the reserve over the Summer, more details of which can be found by visiting www.naturalengland.org.uk/nnr

How do Lathkill Dale’s butterfly numbers this year compare to those in others?  This is not such an easy question to answer as butterfly numbers fluctuate widely.  Because butterflies are such an important indicator of the health of the environment, Natural England has for 30 years been carrying out a regular butterfly survey along the length of the dale.  This has being added to this year by encouraging visitors to take part in the Big Butterfly Count organised by Butterfly Conservation.


Post by Paul Maddox from Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserves.

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