Look closely at the ground in a marshy grassland at this time of year and if you’re very lucky, you could spot the larval webs of the beautiful marsh fritillary butterfly.
The marsh fritillary is a threatened butterfly, small in stature but beautifully patterned. Once widespread in Britain, they have declined quickly over the last 100 years due to large scale habitat loss and fragmentation. In Wales alone, 65% of populations have been lost in the last 30 years (Butterfly Conservation).
The main foodplant, devil’s-bit scabious, can be found in marshy grassland and rhos pasture across Wales. The long term survival of the marsh fritillary butterfly is dependent on grazing. Appropriate grazing, ideally by cattle, creates the ideal habitat mosaic of tussocky grass for sheltering larval webs and encourages the growth of the food plant.
If you’d like to talk about a grazing project involving marsh fritillaries, get in touch.