This species has undergone an extremely steep decline nationally and is also in danger in its Cumbria ‘hot-spot.’ The butterfly is found in LIMESTONE GRASSLAND where there is a mosaic of Bracken and herb-rich grassland. It is also found in LIMESTONE WOODLANDS where it relies on freshly coppiced woodlands, but this type of management is now rarely carried out due to unfavourable economics. Cumbria Branch are active in managing several woodlands to try to recreate the right breeding conditions but it is an uphill struggle as the decline in both habitat condition and colonies has gone so far. With help and encouragement from Cumbria Branch, Butterfly Conservation nationally has raised a substantial amount of grant aid from 2008 to manage more wood lands in the Morecambe Bay area. Since April 2012, Morecambe Bay has been designated a Nature Improvement Area (NIA) providing funding for woodland and grassland management and an impetus for developing connectivity between similar prime habitats. Included in the funding is the idea of encouraging the economic development of neglected woodlands to maintain long term management activity after the neglect of recent decades.
Where to look
Limestone grassland and Broadleaved woodlands where there are wide rides and/or freshly cleared/coppiced areas annually. Clearings with low patchy bracken are used as a warm micro-climate for egg laying. The best site is Gait Barrows NNR, SD 482773 (a visitor permit should be obtained from Natural England, telephone 015395 31604). Other good sites include Howe Ridding CWT Reserve, SD 435882 and Farrer’s Allotment, SD 453856 on Whitbarrow.
When to look
Early May to late June.