Of the 59 species of butterfly found in Britain, two thirds have declined or are on the verge of extinction – 37 species are found in Warwickshire.
Butterfly Conservation has been working very closely with CEMEX at a number of its sites around Rugby especially to conserve one of the regions rarest butterflies, the Small Blue. There were only three colonies surviving by 2008. It was already extinct in Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands County. In Warwickshire, where it was just surviving, it had declined by 87%.
Thanks to recent partnership work between Butterfly Conservation and CEMEX the situation has much improved. The largest colony has always been found at Southam Quarry. One area was recently capped and seeded with a wildflower mix. The area is now covered in the Small Blue caterpillar food plant – Kidney Vetch. It is now estimated that the breeding area for the butterfly has been increased 80 fold.
Near the active area of the Quarry a new conveyor belt is being constructed and on the other side of the rail line old workings were levelled. During these activities the soil was disturbed and an opportunity to seed it arose with the Kidney Vetch. A search for the butterflies eggs this spring confirmed that the Small Blue has colonized this area. On the other side of the rail line Kidney Vetch has yet to get established but excitingly an adult butterfly was seen so colonisation of this area seems only a matter of time.
Anyone requiring further information can contact Mike Slater via www.warwickshire-butterflies.org.uk.