Record year for critically endangered butterfly species

One of the UK?s rarest butterflies has recorded its best year for a decade thanks to 2014?s warm spring weather and work to restore its habitat, a study has revealed.

Last year, the critically endangered High Brown Fritillary experienced its best season since 2004 with numbers increasing by more than 180% compared to 2013, according to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme led by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

The striking orange and black butterfly once bred in most large woods in England and Wales but habitat loss has resulted in alarming declines raising fears that it could be heading towards extinction in the UK.

The High Brown Fritillary, one of only two critically endangered butterflies in the UK, is now restricted to a handful of colonies in North West and South West England and one in Wales.

The butterfly benefitted from warm spring weather and work by wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation and partners targeted at restoring its habitat.

Dr Tom Brereton, head of monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, said: ?The High Brown Fritillary is one of only two butterflies classed as critically endangered in the UK so it is fantastic news that numbers are at their highest level for more than a decade.

?A huge amount of work co-ordinated by Butterfly Conservation has been put into conserving this butterfly in recent years, especially through wildlife-friendly farming schemes, so the results will come as a welcome boost to all involved.

?There is a long way to go before the long-term decline has been reversed, with ongoing targeted conservation efforts crucial in this.?

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