After being extinct in the 1960s, a once-extinct butterfly has been resurrected.
A GIANT butterfly that had been thought to be extinct in Britain for more than 50 years since Dutch elm disease ravaged the country is re-blooming.
Due to the effects of tree disease, climate change, and parasitic insects, the Large Tortoiseshell species became extinct in the 1960s. However, conservationists on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, have detected two groups of orange-spined larvae in elm trees. They also expect two dozen butterflies to emerge as part of the country’s first Large Tortoiseshell colony in five decades.
“We found old larvae skins of caterpillars on Portland last summer, so we were 99 percent sure we’d see evidence of some Large Tortoiseshells this time around,” Pete Eeles of the UK Butterflies website stated.
Orangespined larvae were discovered by Will Langdon, a PhD student at Oxford University.
“We were looking at home-grown Large Tortoiseshell larvae,” Peter explained. It’s a fantastic find, and we’re hoping to see Large Tortoiseshells flying in the coming months.
“We don’t know why this happened on Portland, but there is a microclimate that ensures the elms, their principal food source, are of very good quality.”
The butterfly is a tawny brown color with blue markings on its wings. It’s hoped that it’ll make a comeback in Norfolk and Sussex as well.