|Large Blue at Daneway Banks Nature Reserve, Gloucestershire|
Managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, with the kind help from some Welsh mountain ponies from Butt’s Farm (a rare breed farm in Cirencester) the reserve provides the large blue with a unique habitat and special conditions in which to breed.
The butterfly relies on another species to help it’s lifespan along the way, a red ant called Myrmica sabuleti which lays its eggs on wild thyme. Once hatched, the caterpillars feed on the thyme before dropping to the ground where the red ants mistake them for ant larvae and take them into their colonies. There the butterfly larvae feed on ant larvae until they emerge as butterflies.
There’s a very short window in which to see the large blues, but if the weather conditions stay good they might be around for about two weeks if a visit is planned to see what must be one of our rarest species.