Silver-Studded Blue Butterflies and Bees
Read about the rare Silver-Studded Blue and how we try to help our bee population.
Silver-studded Blue Butterflies (Plebejus argus)
Here at Kelling Heath we have a rare butterfly - the Silver-studded Blue. It has declined throughout Britain becoming extinct in northern, central and southeast regions. The main reason for this decline is the loss of suitable heathland on which they depend, in the last century much Heathland has been planted for forestry, ploughed for agriculture or left unmanaged.
Silver-studded Blues became extinct on Kelling Heath by the 1970's mainly due to a lack of management. Following a study of heathlands in Norfolk, by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and English Nature, Kelling Heath was found to be a suitable place to reintroduce the butterfly, if appropriate management was carried out.
In 2001 several adult butterflies were translocated from another site in Norfolk to two release sites on Kelling Heath. Since then the butterflies have been increasing in number and have spread into new areas. Management is carried out each year to improve the area for the butterflies and other heathland wildlife and each year we have seen an increase in the numbers of Silver-studded Blues on the heath.
In 2013, 562 silver studded blue butterflies were recorded on Kelling Heath compared to 162 recorded on the same day in 2012.
Protecting our bee population
Bumblebees are among the more familiar of our insects but are under increasing threat due to changes in how the countryside is farmed. The number of species found in most of lowland Britain has halved since 1950 and three species have gone nationally extinct and several more may follow in the near future unless action is taken.
Bees feed exclusively on pollen and nectar and there are now far fewer flowers in the countryside than there once were. Hedges have been removed and marshes drained and unimproved grasslands which are rich in wildflowers have been lost and replaced by silage and cereal fields.
There is also concern about the decline in honeybees particularly from the Varroa mite which is decimating colonies throughout the world and which has been the subject of debate worldwide and in our own Houses of Parliament.
Bees make an important contribution to the sustainability of the countryside, contributing both to agriculture and horticulture and to biodiversity. They also produce honey and other hive products and further losses will have serious implications on food production both in the UK and worldwide.
At Kelling Heath we will:
- Research the habitat that is required for bees to thrive and review how we can provide pockets of suitable habitat at Kelling Heath without compromising existing habitats
- Interpret the threats to the bee population to visitors and show how we are attempting to reverse the decline
- Provide simple guidance on how visitors can play their part in helping to preserve the bee population in their own gardens across Britain