The Rise and Demise of the Glanville fritillary on the Isle of Wight

Research paper by R. J. Curtis, M. S. Botham, T. M. Brereton, N. J. B. Isaac

Indexed on: 29 Nov '14Published on: 29 Nov '14Published in: Journal of Insect Conservation


The Glanville fritillary is one of Britain’s rarest breeding butterflies, and is predominantly restricted to the south coast of the Isle of Wight. Populations have been monitored annually at a high proportion of known sites by counting the number of larval ‘webs’ during spring since 1996. In this paper, we present population time series for eight core sites. Populations have been observed to fluctuate considerably over the last 18 years, with a high degree of synchrony between sites. Recently, numbers of larval webs have shown a severe decline, with simultaneous extinctions occurring across many former strongholds. We combine our web count data with counts of adult butterflies from five sites of the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Together, these data suggest that the Glanville fritillary is threatened by extinction on the Isle of Wight, and that the total area used for breeding is likely no more than a few km2. The results flag up the need for a national census of remaining populations and further research to understand causes of decline, so that a conservation recovery plan can be developed.