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Caterpillars of Britain's biggest butterfly stolen from Norfolk Broads

Swallowtail butterfly Credit: Jacqui Rogers

Police are hunting thieves who've stolen the caterpillars of Britain's biggest butterfly from their unique habitat in the Norfolk Broads.

It's feared they've been taken by illegal butterfly collectors who will wait for the Swallowtails to hatch before killing and displaying them. Natalie Gray reports :

Five milk parsley plants were taken from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Hickling Broad. They would have been covered with rare swallowtail butterfly caterpillars feeding on them.

"This is an appalling wildlife crime to dig up these rare plants from an internationally important nature reserve and deliberately take rare swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. "Britain's vulnerable wildlife face enough challenges without people callously exploiting precious plants and animals for commercial or personal gain."

– Brendan Joyce, Chief Executive, Norfolk Wildlife Trust