Today’s Solutions: October 05, 2022

Here at the Optimist Daily, we love inspiring conservation stories involving species that return back to the places they once belonged to. Today, we have the heath butterfly as the protagonist of the latest of such comeback stories.

The heath butterfly — known as the “Manchester argus” — was once a common sight fluttering above meadows and moss lands around Manchester and Liverpool, but the destruction of land for agriculture and peat extraction led to local extinction in the 19th century.

Conservationists from Lancashire Wildlife Trust are now looking to reverse the fortunes of this rare butterfly by restoring a 37-hectare area of peatland in the region where they have recreated habitats of sphagnum moss, cross-leaved heath and hare’s-tail cottongrass on which the butterflies depend.

After one year of carefully caring and breeding for six female butterflies taken from a zoo, conservationists are now ready to release 45 hand-reared pupae on to a secret site where they will be kept in protected tents while they emerge from their pupae.

The butterflies rarely fly more than 650m from where they are born so they were unlikely to colonize the area alone. Conservationists hope there will be a good colony here in the next 10 years.

The reintroduction is part of a wider effort to restore the region’s heavily degraded wetlands, with other species set to be introduced including bog bush cricket, white-faced darter dragonfly, and carnivorous sundew.

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