Rare butterfly colonies sought in the Highlands

Scotland could be harbouring previously undiscovered colonies of one of the UK’s rarest butterflies, according to experts.

The Chequered Skipper, which is extinct in England, is now only known to occur in the UK within a 30-mile radius of Fort William in the Highlands.

However, recent work by Butterfly Conservation Scotland (BCS) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has predicted the butterfly could have been living unnoticed in many other parts of the country, including parts of Sutherland, Wester Ross and Mull.

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BCS is calling for the public to take part in a survey, reporting sightings of the small butterfly, so they can work out the true extent of its population.

Dr Tom Prescott, senior conservation officer for BCS, said: “The Chequered Skipper is a rare and enigmatic butterfly which we believe is probably more widespread than current records suggest.

“We have identified 100 one-kilometre squares where we think the butterfly should occur, but we don’t have any sightings.”