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Dingy Skipper
puddleshark wrote in i_heart_bugs
Dingy Skipper
Erynnis tages, basking on the grassy ramparts of an Iron Age hillfort in Dorset. The caterpillars feed on Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa). Preferred habitat: rough-grazed grassland where the ground has been disturbed by cattle. Once a very common species in the UK.

"Unfortunately, numerous colonies have been lost in recent years, making this one of our most rapidly declining butterflies. The principal cause has been the 'improvement' of most ancient grassland for agriculture, which eliminates the butterfly's foodplants." The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland - Jeremy Thomas & Richard Lewington.

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Sadly I have seen many butterflies decrease in my lifetime. The first I recall (1960's) was the Duke of Burgandy at Norbury Park nr Boxhill, Surrey - the rabbits died out, the grass grew tall, the butterflies could not find primrose plants to use to oviposit.

I'm lucky enough to live in an area rich in nature reserves, so I sometimes get a glimpse of what it must have been like to walk through meadows a hundred years ago... But it makes you realise just how dead and empty most of the British countryside is now.

I've never seen a Duke of Burgundy.

I've not seen D.o.b since 1960's. On Wych Elms not far away I used to find White-letter Hairstreak eggs/larvae. I bred both species as lad . . . those were the days when "collecting" was not taboo. I'm only talking low numbers - maybe 6 hairstreak and a couple of dozed D.o.B, mounted a couple of each, released the rest where collected. The specimens "mounted" are in pristine condition in my brother's collection to this day.

We have a tiny surviving population of D.o.B's here in Dorset, which Butterfly Conservation are battling to save... I do hope one day to see one.

No, no-one thought anything of collecting back in those days. No-one foresaw quite how drastically the British countryside would change in the following decades.

I hope they are successful. I certainly remember it was dead easy to breed it. Pot up primrose, put into breeding cage, go out collect a few eggs, put them in the cage .... watch this space. Easy as that. I've studied beetles nearly all my life and realise just how impoverished our gardens are in Carabidae. I could guarantee finding Violet Ground Beetle years ago, but not seen one for about 25yrs (in the garden). That said, I do see Orange tip and Holly Blue each spring. No food plant for Orange tip nearby, I only see males so I guess they stray from food plant areas. Holly Blue thrives on holly and ivy in gardens esp. in older properties with larger "wild" gardens.

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