The National Trust cares for some of our most cherished places, landscapes and wildlife habitats on the Northumberland Coast including Lindisfarne Castle, The Farne Islands, the two inland sites of Ros Castle and St Cuthbert's Cave, and over 12 miles of stunning coast over a forty mile stretch. These include St Aidan's dunes at Seahouses, Beadnell lime kilns, Craster to Low Newton (including Dunstanburgh Castle and Embleton Bay), Buston Links at Alnmouth and Druridge Bay.
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Butterflies at the Long Nanny
The Long Nanny reserve is not just an amazing place because
of its nesting Terns; but also for its incredible sand dune system.Teeming with wild flowers and the
pollinators that feed upon them, it's well worth an explore!
This year, the ranger team have spotted 14 different species
of butterfly on site.With 3/4 of
the 59 species in the UK declining, the Long Nanny reserve is an important
habitat for these beautiful insects.
Butterflies are recognised by the government as indicators
of biodiversity.Their fragility
makes them quick to react to change so their struggle to survive is a serious
warning about our environment.
Assistant Ranger Vicky Knight has been monitoring the Long Nanny site this summer. "My favourite and probably most common butterfly on this site
is the Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)." she says. "In the butterfly family Lycaenidae
(or the blues), around 50% of all species are associated in some way with
ants.This relationship varies
between species, ranging from loosely and unspecific to strictly obligate.With Common Blue butterflies, the
larvae secrete nutritious droplets from a specialized gland which ants feed
upon.In return the ants protect
the larvae from parasites and predators.
"Another welcome visitor to the site is the Painted Lady (Vanessa
cardui), one of our largest species.A very powerful flyer, the Painted Lady
is well known for its ability to migrate great distances.They fly between 500m and 1km up in the
sky during migration and can reach a speed of 30mph.Over a series of steps by up to six successive generations,
this species undertakes a 9000 mile round trip from tropical Africa to the
Arctic circle- almost double the length of the famous Monarch butterfly in
"Another of my favourites is the Dark Green Fritillary.The most widespread fritillary in the
UK and found in huge numbers at the Long Nanny reserve.It is a very powerful flyer, being able
to live in windy coastal habitats.Its larva feed upon the Common dog-violet (Viola riviniana) which is plentiful on site.Thistles are a favourite nectar source- often seeing two or
three Dark Green Fritillaries feeding off one flower."
Help Butterfly Conservation get a
better understanding of butterfly populations and distributions in your area by taking part
in the Big Butterfly Count.It has
all ready started and needs as many people as possible to take part.Visit www.butterfly-conservation.org/bigbutterflycount2015
for more information.