The charity Butterfly Conservation have set up a 3 year project in your area to help one of the rarest butterflies in the UK. The Wood White Leptidea sinapsis has just one remaining population in the South East, and this is found in a few locations around Chiddingfold, Dunsfold, Plaistow, Grayswood and Northchapel. We will be working with Forestry England, the Woodland Trust, National Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust and parish councils on sites in the area to create more suitable habitat for the butterfly and link up isolated small colonies. If we manage to create enough ‘stepping stones’ of Wood White habitat in the landscape, we hope that small colonies can link up, start to spread and become less genetically isolated from each other.
The Wood White needs sunny but sheltered flower-rich areas within woodland, although it isn’t entirely restricted to woodland as its name would suggest. It has five foodplants which are essential for the caterpillars – they are all legumes and include Bird’s Foot Trefoil and Tufted Vetch. It also benefits from plenty of its favoured nectar plants, including Greater Stitchwort, Bugle, Ragged Robin, Fleabane and Betony. Management work to encourage the Wood White will therefore focus on management of the open rides and glades within woodland blocks. We will be sowing and planting a range of food plants and nectar plants using locally sourced seed. In fact we have a target of creating around 3 km of wildflower strips throughout the area, in woodlands, meadows, village greens and even gardens. Managing land for the Wood White will also benefit a wide range of other species, including the rare Grizzled Skipper butterfly and a wide range of other invertebrates and even reptiles.
How you can help – Butterfly Conservation Project Officer Fiona Haynes would love to hear from any local landowners and residents who would like to get involved. If you own any land in the project area, or are happy to grow beneficial plants in your garden, please get in touch. There will be plenty of opportunities to help on practical volunteer tasks or with growing on plug plants from seed. We will also be running workshops and guided walks next summer, focussed on butterfly and bee identification, as well as management of habitats to benefit these species. Look out for events advertised through village Facebook pages, Facebook group ‘Wealden Wood Whites’, or join the mailing list. Please get in touch with Fiona for more information – firstname.lastname@example.org or 07483 039323