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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Gorse clearing for rare butterfly
The Silver Studded Blue
The Silver Studded Blue only lays one egg a year
An area of gorse is being cleared in Snowdonia to improve the habitat for a rare blue butterfly.

Following the clearance, sheep will be allowed to graze the land at Beddgelert to pave the way for the Silver Studded Blue to breed next year.

Highly grazed heather is the "perfect" habitat for the Silver Studded Blue.

The site at Hafod Garegog National Nature Reserve is owned by the National Trust and managed in partnership by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW).

"The temperate conditions of north west Wales are ideal for these butterflies," said Doug Oliver from CCW.

"The gorse clearance will be invaluable here in removing barriers to expansion as Silver Studs are weak fliers and tall vegetation prevents them colonising suitable areas."

The butterflies lay their eggs on heather stems, and their larvae eat heather shoots.

Volunteers

Mr Oliver added: "They are very fussy and only like heavily grazed heather.

"Gorse shades out heather, and also prevents the essential sheep grazing in the autumn that keeps the heather in breeding condition for butterflies."

The gorse will be cleared by volunteers with the European-funded Meirionnydd Oakwoods Habitat Management Project.

As well as the butterflies Hafod Garegog National Nature Reserve is known for its population of Small Red Damselfly, a species which breeds in small boggy pools.



SEE ALSO
County seeks butterfly spotters
13 May 06 |  North West Wales

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