Swallowtails join the party
Appeared on Space For Nature on August 31st 2003
It seems that all summer we've been inundated with news of a great year for butterflies - I make no apologies; who knows when it might happen again?! Now it's the turn of another of our rare native butterflies to join the party: the swallowtail (Papilio machaon).
Normally a rare British resident confined to a few areas of fenland in East Anglia, over the past few weeks swallowtails have been turning up on the south coast (nine sightings in Kent) and even in the Midlands. The new sightings are probably accounted for by continental immigrants. The continental swallowtails are known to more catholic in their choice of habitat and larval food-plants than their British cousins (the larvae of British resident swallowtails are only found on milk parsley, Peucedanum palustre).
Conservationists believe that given favourable weather in future years, the population increases and range expansions we are witnessing for some species could continue. Richard Fox of Butterfly Conservation said that to sustain these population increases, the butterflies will depend upon the provision of suitable habitat in gardens and farmland.
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