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Get in a flap over butterflies

20 March 2007

Summer without butterflies wouldn’t be summer at all. Hedgerows and country lanes across the UK are brought to life each year by these colourful insects.

The changing seasons may be taken for granted, but many species could be disappearing for good, not just for winter.

Over the past 40 years, Hertfordshire has lost several species of butterfly and some are close to extinction in the area.

Marbled white butterfly. © Brian Sawford

Marbled white butterfly. © Brian Sawford

The exhibition Bright Wings of Summer: Hertfordshire’s Butterflies explores the intense environmental pressures facing butterflies and moths in Hertfordshire.

‘We are delighted to host this new exhibition,’ said Alice Dowswell, the Museum’s exhibition officer, ‘which highlights the importance of recording butterflies and moths'.

'Many species can be used as indicators of the quality of the environment, including butterflies, and the more of us that know about their decline, the greater chance we have of saving them.’

Butterfly Conservation
Red admiral. © Brian Sawford

Red admiral. © Brian Sawford

Created by the Hertfordshire & Middlesex branch of Butterfly Conservation, the exhibition displays photos by butterfly expert Brian Sawford and has activities including butterfly mobile-making and a butterfly walk for families.

Those with a keen interest can help by keeping track of butterflies they see in the local area and sending their sightings to Butterfly Conservation.

Grizzled skipper

The diminutive but striking grizzled skipper (pictured above) is one to look out for. It is found at only a handful of sites. Butterfly Conservation is working to ensure its survival in Hertfordshire.

Volunteers have had a success with the purple emperor, now present in local woods.© Brian Sawford

Volunteers have had a success with the purple emperor that is now present in local woods. © Brian Sawford

Purple emperor

One success story is the spectacular but elusive purple emperor, a species many believed no longer existed in Hertfordshire. Thanks to the hard work of dedicated volunteers it is now known to be present in several woods in the area.

Bright Wings of Summer: Hertfordshire’s Butterflies runs until 22 April 2007 at the Natural History Museum at Tring , Hertfordshire.

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