Page last updated at 23:48 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 00:48 UK

Extinction fear for butterflies

Mountain ringlet (Pic: Ken Willmott/Butterfly Conservation Scotland)
Sightings of mountain ringlet have been called for

The UK's only mountain dwelling species of butterfly could be wiped out in Scotland because of climate change, experts have warned.

Warmer temperatures are driving the mountain ringlet higher up hillsides in the search for cooler conditions.

Butterfly Conservation Scotland (BCS) has appealed to the public to report sightings as part of a Scottish Natural Heritage-funded project.

People are also asked to look for northern dart and netted mountain moth.

Paul Kirkland, BCS director, said ringlet faced a very real threat.

It is essential that we find out exactly what is hiding in the hills
Paul Kirkland
Butterfly Conservation Scotland

He said: "This butterfly is retreating higher up the hillsides as the warmer weather makes lower habitats unsuitable.

"The fear is that as climate change continues, this rare species will run out of mountain, and become extinct in Scotland."

The flip side of global warming has seen species which have died out in the south surviving in Scotland.

They include chequered skipper butterfly, Kentish glory and New Forest Burnet moth.

Mr Kirkland said: "There are already parts of Scotland harbouring butterflies that have become extinct in England, and the largely unspoilt landscape found in the uplands is an increasingly important habitat.

"It is essential that we find out exactly what is hiding in the hills."

There are 33 species of butterfly that regularly breed in Scotland and about 1,300 species of moths.

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