A butterfly facing extinction in Kent has seen its population more than treble across the county due to a decade of conservation work.
Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation says that numbers of the Duke of Burgundy had been declining, but that it can now be seen at 13 locations including at Denge Wood near Canterbury.
Nathan Jones, chairman of Butterfly Conservation, said: “This amazing turn-around started 10 years ago when Butterfly Conservation, in partnership with Forestry Commission England, secured funding for a three-year project to create new butterfly habitat and improve woodland management at several sites.
“When that ended in 2011, the work was kept going thanks to the Duke Guardians volunteer network and a Natural England scheme to create new flower-rich grasslands specifically for the Duke of Burgundy.
“Without these efforts, the butterfly would not be here today – certainly not in the numbers we now enjoy across Kent.”
The Duke of Burgundy is renowned for its feisty nature and is often seen chasing off much larger butterflies that wander into its territory.
Dan Tuson from Natural England said: “We’ll continue to monitor this butterfly and do what we can to help it thrive in Kent.
“Our work to create a new network of grassland habitats is helping the Duke move into new areas and we have a great relationship with farmers and landowners across the Crundale and Wye area, providing them with habitat management advice on how to benefit this butterfly and other wildlife.
“I’d like to thank all the dedicated volunteers, who have ensured the legacy of the original project continues to this day and I am extremely hopeful that that this lovely butterfly will always have a home in Kent.”
The butterfly can be seen throughout May and early June and people are being invited to see the Duke for themselves at free guided walks on Sunday, May 12 at Denge Wood near Canterbury and on Sunday, June 9 near the village of Crundale.
To find out more visit the Butterfly Conservation website.