A very rare butterfly known as a White Letter Hairstreak butterfly ‘Satyrium w-album’, has been spotted on the Stratford-upon-Avon Recreation Ground. The butterfly was seen feeding from the nectar of wildflowers by Butterfly Farm Education Officers Adam McVeigh and John Withers when they visited the new wildflower meadow, planted by Stratford-on-Avon District Council. Adam and John were taking part in the Big Butterfly Count nationwide survey when they spotted this exciting find.
The butterfly has been on the decline since Dutch Elm took hold and is not a common sight in the area. Eminent Lepidopterist Richard Lamb, Managing Director at the Stratford Butterfly Farm has verified the sighting and is equally excited. The Butterfly Conservation Trust and Stratford-on-Avon District Council have also been notified.
The butterfly’s underwings are brown, with a white W-shaped streak, an orange edge and small tails. The butterfly usually flies around the tops of trees, particularly Elms but occasionally comes down to ground level to nectar on flowers, especially privet and bramble.
The Big Butterfly Count, run by Butterfly Conservation takes place each year at the end of July and the beginning of August and is one of the world’s biggest surveys of butterfly numbers.
Officers including Jennifer Wharton, Streetscene Contract Officer at Stratford-on-Avon District Council, who was responsible for planting the meadow, were absolutely delighted when they heard the news. Their main purpose of planting the wildflower meadow was to encourage bees, butterflies and insects as well as the area looking beautiful for visitors and residents.
Cllr Mike Brain, Community and Technical Services Portfolio says: “What a fantastic discovery! In the long-term, many rare species are still in decline so what is important is to have good conservation in place. Council officers are currently identifying suitable areas across the District to plant more wildflower meadows and encourage other rare butterflies to thrive and prosper.”
To see hundreds of spectacular butterflies, insects, reptiles and spiders visit the Butterfly Farm from 10am to 6pm every day of the week.