Target Species - Herts & Middx Butterfly Conservation

Species Champions (Branch Specialist Species)

Why did we target specific species?

In the autumn of 2000, Butterfly Conservation launched a series of Regional Action Plans and at the time Hertfordshire and Middlesex was covered by the Thames Region REGIONAL ACTION PLAN (compiled by Dr. S.A. Clarke with assistance from Dr. N. Bourn). Butterfly Conservation also created several dedicated Regional Officers to cover some of the regions. The Thames Region covered Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.

The Regional Action Plan (RAP) set out the main conservation priorities for all butterflies and High Priority moths in the Thames Region

In January 2001, the Branch Committee formed a Conservation sub-committee which included representatives from other environmental organisations or wildlife charities. The main committee would continue to deal with the actual running of the branch and would remain responsible for approving any major expenditure relating to conservation.

The inital aim of the Conservation sub-committee was to address three issues

  • Rare Species - to identify butterfly species whose status in Hertfordshire or Middlesex was either uncertain or declining.
  • Reserves - to discuss issues relating to our reserve at Millhoppers and any considerations should the Branch acquire another reserve
  • County-wide Group - to look at wider conservation issues across Hertfordshire and Middlesex

In September 2001, the committee selected a number of species from point one. Some of the species have long been restricted or rare in our area, others were known to be in decline.

Each species was allocated a co-ordinator who would take responsibility for collecting data and advising volunteers of what to look for (eggs, larvae, pupae and habitats also needed to be considered as well as adults). Potential sites were identified and visits arranged during the flight period. It was hoped that the data collected would help us understand the reasons for the status of these insects and enable us to open dialogue with land owners to try to ensure that areas are conserved or developed to help the butterflies found there. In some cases the surveys uncovered new sites for some of our rarest species.

The species initially selected were *Grizzled Skipper, *Dingy Skipper, Purple Emperor, *White Admiral, Green Hairstreak, *Brown Hairstreak, *Small Blue, Small Copper, Fritillaries (Silver-washed and Dark Green) and *Wall. *UK Priority Species since 2007

In the autumn of 2008, the conservation sub-committee decided to review the species selected, and agreed that Wall would be removed and that Small Copper would combine with *Small Heath, to create a more habitat related role for the co-ordinator. At the same meeting it was decided to suspend the conservation sub-committee for the present time. Since the formation of the conservation sub-committee the profile of butterflies and moths has been raised in both Middlesex and Hertfordshire.

2016 Update

In 2016 Butterfly Conservation produced revised Regional Action Plans to reflect the changes that had occured across the regions since the initial plans were introduced. It was agreed that Hertfordshire and Middlesex would both come under the umbrella of the Eastern Region (whereas before the branch was split between Eastern and South-eastern Regional Offices).

The Species Co-ordinators or as other branches call them 'Species Champions' no longer have specific roles but the following volunteers still maintain a strong interest in the species, some becoming recognised national experts. These volunteers are listed with their specialist species and the relevant local species pages will be updated in due course.

Small Blue Project

When the first Regional Action Plan was introduced the Small Blue had been close to extinction in the branch area, and subsequently became extinct. A revival of the species fortunes started to occur in 2011 and since then it has been found at several new sites.

As a result, the branch is currently developing a Small Blue Project with local wildlife partners and landowners to increase our knowledge of its distribution with the aim of encouraging a network of linked potential sites. The key factor is the need for Kidney Vetch, the larval food plant to be present. For more information on the project or if you would like to be involved please contact Malcolm Hull (contact details below).

Brown Hairstreak

In the autumn of 2016 Brown Hairstreak eggs were found at a site in London just north of the River Thames. This is the first modern confirmed record of the species breeding and indicates that the species has spread northwards from Surrey where the Surrey and SW London Branch have been recording the species rapid movement northwards. The larval foodplant of Brown Hairstreak is Blackthorn and one of the best methods for recording the species is by finding the eggs during the winter.

Specialist Species

Click on species
for more information
Species champion Telephone Email
Dingy Skipper
(Erynnis tages)
Volunteer needed
Grizzled Skipper
(Pyrgus malvae)
Andrew Middleton
& Liz Goodyear
01920 487066
White Admiral
(Limenitis camilla)
Andrew Wood 01992 503571
Purple Emperor
(Apatura iris)
Andrew Middleton
& Liz Goodyear
01920 487066
Brown Hairstreak
(Thecla betulae)
Malcolm Hull 01727 857893
White-letter Hairstreak
(Satyrium w-album)
Andrew Middleton
& Liz Goodyear
01920 487066
Small Blue
(Cupido minimus)
Malcolm Hull 01727 857893


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