Rare but­ter­fly ends 50-year exile in style

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile -

Ev­ery now and again, some­thing causes a stir among bird­watch­ers, botanists or, as in this case, but­ter­fly en­thu­si­asts.

This summer Hol­land and Bel­gium have ex­pe­ri­enced large num­bers of a but­ter­fly called the scarce or yel­low­legged tor­toise­shell. More than 250 have been recorded in the past month af­ter none were seen for more than 50 years.

The but­ter­fly is found in Eastern Europe and ap­pears to be spread­ing west.

It dif­fers from the sim­i­larly rare large tor­toise­shell by mi­nor dif­fer­ences in the mar­gins on the border of the fore wings and the un­der­side of the hind-wings. How­ever, the main dif­fer­ence is the pale legs of the scarce tor­toise­shell. The food-plant is not rare – scarce tor­toise­shell cater­pil­lars feed on a range of wil­low species.

In the UK, there have been sight­ings in East Anglia and at Sand­wich and Oare Marshes.

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