Posted 25th May 2018 by Peter Byrne
Schoolchildren in Somerset are being encouraged to come face to face with the UK's rarest butterfly
On 31 May, Butterfly Conservation (BC) will host a free family festival in Somerton to celebrate the start of the flight season for the Large Blue butterfly.
The Large Blue is globally endangered, and became extinct in the UK during the 1970s. However, an innovative project involving BC and other partners means the butterfly is now found on several sites across the south west.
BC's Large Blue Project Officer, Sarah Meredith, said: "The Large Blue was reintroduced to Somerset around 26 years ago and the county is now one of the best places in the UK to see this rare butterfly - but so many people living here don’t realise that."
"The festival will be a chance to inspire a younger generation about their local wildlife and to teach them about the Large Blue, its amazing relationship with ants and what they can do to help the butterfly thrive in Somerset for years to come."
Sarah added: "We already have a number of local schools taking part in fancy-dress and mask-making competitions on the day. Pollinator-friendly plants will be handed out to families and the children will learn how to grow their own caterpillar gardens."
"There will also be a chance to go on a guided butterfly walk to see the habitat of the Large Blue and other butterfly species in the area."
You can identify the Large Blue by its broad black border around its upper wings, accompanied by an unmistakable row of black spots along its upper forewing.
Best known for its remarkable life cycle, the caterpillar spends most of the year within red ant nests, where it will feed on ant grubs.
The National Trust's Collard Hill in Somerset is a stronghold for the butterfly, which can be seen there between early June and mid-July.
The half-term event was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and runs at Compton Dundon Village Hall between 11am and 3pm.
Picture courtesy of Butterfly Conservation / Keith Warmington