Rare species of butterfly spotted in Britain for the first time in 60 years

10 Dec 2014

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Britain’s butterfly catchers are likely on high alert following the appearance of a rare species of the insect not spotted in more than 60 years.

According to The Telegraph, there have been 30 reported sightings of the tortoiseshell butterfly in 2014, with the insect appearing all over Britain.

The tortoiseshell is more commonly found in central and eastern Europe, China and Japan. lts only previous UK sighting was in Sevenoaks, Kent, in 1953.

As the tortoiseshell – also known as the yellow-legged tortoiseshell – prefers cold climates, conservationists are hoping a chilly winter might help the species successfully hibernate and emerge in spring of next year.

“Suddenly to go from one previous record 60 years ago to a good scattering of sightings is pretty amazing,” Dr Tom Brereton, the head of monitoring at wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation, told The Telegraph.

“The emergence and immigration of continental swallowtails and scarce tortoiseshells has made 2014 a truly remarkable butterfly year and, with a bit of luck, 2015 could shape up to be even more memorable.”

Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com