Brilliant Butterflies

6th April 2022, by William Blessant

Despite its small size Foxley Wood hosts 25 different species of butterfly, which represents nearly half of the total number of butterfly species in the British Isles. These include Purple Hairstreak, White-letter Hairstreak and Silver-washed Fritillary.

In 2020 the Brilliant Butterflies scheme provided an opportunity for us to increase even further the diversity of butterflies and other insects in the Reserve. The Brilliant Butterflies team in collaboration with Friends of Foxley created 3 Butterfly Scrapes on the bottom path, and an Inversion Bed in the Recreation Ground, next to the playground. By removing the top layer of soil (in the case of the Scrapes) or burying it (in the case of the Inversion Bed) these areas have created ideal conditions for chalkland flora to thrive.

The areas were seeded and plug planted at the end of 2020 and the results, especially in the Inversion Bed were quite spectacular at the end of last summer. The Scrapes, with their greater prevalence of chalk, have seen the germination of smaller chalkland wild flowers such as Kidney Vetch and Horseshoe Vetch. These plants are host to the Small Blue and Chalkhill Blue butterflies respectively. Neither of these species have been recorded in the Reserve hitherto, but with colonies present at other reserves in the area it is hoped that they will be encouraged to visit and establish themselves as breeding species. Watch this space!

Ringlet Butterfly

The Friends of Foxley are a group of volunteers who manage Foxley Wood in Kenley, Surrey.