The marsh fritillary is one of the UK’s most threatened butterfly species, affected by habitat loss and fragmentation. It was formerly common in the area around Stithians Lake but due to changes in land use the species has now become rare. The need to protect remaining habitat and restore former areas of habitat is becoming increasingly urgent to prevent it from becoming locally extinct. We are working with local landowners and volunteers to restore and manage areas of land by clearing overgrown willow and by planting more of the sole larval food plant (devil's bit scabious) that we grow in our nursery from locally sourced seed.
Working with our amazing volunteers we have cleared around 1.5 acres of land at Trelusback Farm, Penhalvean where a small population of marsh fritillaries already exists. Clearing this area has created an area 4 times larger than currently exists and should allow the population to expand considerably. We now need to employ a contractor to dredge a silted up drainage ditch, remove some larger trees adjacent to the ditch and to roughly level up the area that has already been cleared. Our volunteers will then plant out the devil's bit scabious plants that we raised in our nursery, providing more habitat for the butterflies to colonise next year.
We are the only organisation in the Stithians Lake area actively prioritising on the ground work to protect and restore habitat for the marsh fritillary butterfly. We work closely with the Cornwall Butterfly & Moth Society and researchers at the University of Exeter to discuss and decide on management decisions to improve the habitat. We also have a very dedicated group of local volunteers who care deeply about the local environment and commit their time to shaping and contributing to this initiative.