Will Belgian butterflies soon flutter around English woodland?


Various species of insects involved in crop pollination are having a tough time. The impact on human beings is huge, as we depend on them for three-quarters of our agricultural goods. This means our food, including fruit, vegetables, and cocoa ... All products that risk becoming scarce in the longer term. The main causes of the decline are a drop in biodiversity, the monoculture in industrial agriculture and growing use of pesticides. Bees and butterflies are the worst affected.

However, there is some cheerful news. Belgium recently put 40 chequered skippers on the Eurostar to England, with Fineshade Wood near the English town of Peterborough as their final destination. This butterfly can still be found in several areas of Belgium, namely the Kempen, parts of the Ardennes and the Gaume and Fagne-Famenne regions. In England, however, the chequered skipper died out back in 1976.

The reintroduction to England is likely to be a success. After all, the Peterborough district has the same kind of grass as in the mentioned regions of Belgium. The caterpillars of the chequered skipper feed for nine months on this particular grass. The water course is also comparable.

Over the last few days some Belgian and British biologists went off to catch around 30 females. Normally the released females will already have been fertilised, however ten males went along just in case. It is best not to take any risks in matters of biodiversity.