Extinct Butterfly Returns and Bees Spreading Disease

Published on June 28th 2019
A close up of a chequered skipper

Return of the Butterfly

Two chequered skippers on a plant
Chequered Skippers have successfully bred in an English woodland for the first time in 40 years.
The butterflies were spotted in a secret location in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire. They are the offspring of adults collected in Belgium and released last spring by Butterfly Conservation and Forestry England as part of the conservation project, Back from the Brink.
Another group of chequered skippers have been released at the site in recent weeks in the hope that the three-year project will build a resilient and self-sustaining population.
The Chequered Skipper became extinct in 1976 due to the destruction of habitat caused by changes in woodland management. Forestry England has recently adopted different land practices, and Rockingham Forest has been restored to ideal conditions.
Butterfly Conservation’s Dr Nigel Bourn said: 'Seeing my first ever English-born Chequered Skipper, just as we were about to release the ones we had brought back from Belgium was an incredible moment, as a scientist I was surprised by the sheer emotion of the moment.
'I saw in one tiny butterfly the result of so many peoples’ hard work and dedication that has got us to the point where we have achieved this major milestone.
'Reintroducing a species is not a quick fix, and the challenge now is to make sure that woodland management across the landscape can provide the habitats the Chequered Skipper needs into the future.'
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Honeybee Infection

Domestic honeybees are spreading diseases to wild honeybees, new research suggests.
Scientists have found two troublesome viruses on flowers that both kinds of bees share - deformed wing virus and black queen cell virus.
The team detected the viruses on 19% of flowers on the sites near apiaries, compared no none in sites more than a kilometre away.
The research comes from the University of Vermont and is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Author Samantha Algert said: 'I thought this was going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. What are the chances that you're going to pick a flower and find a bee virus on it?'
Senior author Alison Brody added: 'This evidence suggests that viruses in managed honeybees are spilling over to wild bumblebee populations and that flowers are an important route.'
'Careful monitoring and treating of diseased honeybee colonies could protect wild bees from these viruses as well as other pathogens or parasites.'
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