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In search of the elusive Large Blue - Ken Goodwin goes hunting

Prince Charles is taken for a look around the reserve

Prince Charles visited a wildlife reserve yesterday looking for one of the rarest butterflies in the country.

The Large Blue became extinct in this country in the 1950s but it has been introduced to the Daneway Banks reserve, at Sapperton in Gloucestershire - where the Prince of Wales is patron.

Our Gloucestershire correspondent thought he'd try his luck at finding it...

If it's any consolation, Prince Charles never got to see one either.

But he did get to unveil a special plaque to commemorate his visit to the reserve, though like the butterfly we'd all been looking for, it took flight.

The plaque unveiled by Prince Charles

Threatened butterfly discovered in Wiltshire

White-letter hairstreak caterpillars feed exclusively on the flower buds and leaves of elm trees. Credit: Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

The caterpillar of a white-letter hairstreak butterfly has been discovered for the first time at Clouts Wood in Wiltshire, despite being under threat.

A small green larva was spotted by a visitor who was delighted at his discovery of this rare species who have suffered heavy declines, as a result of Dutch Elm Disease.

The butterfly gets its name from the W-shape etched in white on the underside of its hindwing.

Clouts Wood is fortunate to support a number of healthy mature wych elm trees, which provide fantastic habitat for the white-letter hairstreak. Our ongoing management will now focus on protecting and enhancing habitat for this species at the reserve and adjacent Kings Farm Wood.

– Ellie Jones, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Reserves Field Officer


Warm weather helps boost endangered butterfly numbers

Critically Endangered Butterfly Hits 10 Year High Credit: Butterfly Conservation

One of the UK’s rarest butterflies has recorded its best year for a decade and the South West is one of only three areas in the UK it can be found.

The High Brown Fritillary was last year classed as critically endangered by Butterfly Conservation - but has seen a 180% increase thanks to a stronghold on Dartmoor, where it thrives on open woodland.

It's thanks to 2014’s warm spring weather and work to restore its habitat according to a study led by the Dorset based charity Butterfly Conservation and other organisations.

The High Brown Fritillary is one of only two critically endangered butterflies in the UK.

The High Brown Fritillary is one of only two butterflies classed as critically endangered in the UK so it is fantastic news that numbers are at their highest level for more than a decade.

A huge amount of work co-ordinated by Butterfly Conservation has been put into conserving this butterfly in recent years, especially though wildlife-friendly farming schemes, so the results will come as a welcome boost to all involved.

There is a long way to go before the long-term decline has been reversed, with ongoing targeted conservation efforts crucial in this.

– Dr Tom Brereton, Head of Monitoring at Butterfly Conservation