One of Scotland’s rarest butterflies – the small blue – is thriving in Ayrshire two years after an ambitious translocation project.
The small blue (Cupido minimus), smallest butterfly found in Scotland, was locally extinct, having last been seen in Irvine near the Ayrshire coast in 1983.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation Scotland teamed up to return the small blue to the site following an absence of 30 years.
Around 30 butterflies were collected from a healthy population on a monitored site on the Moray coast.
They were then transported 225 miles to the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Gailes Marsh Wildlife Reserve where kidney vetch, a plant that the small blue is dependent upon, grows in abundance.
Populations of this plant had been boosted on the reserve and the adjacent Dundonald Links golf course prior to the release.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve Manager for Southwest Scotland, Gill Smart, said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust is very proud to have brought the small blue back to Ayrshire.
“Last summer we did not spot any small blue butterflies and were concerned that, despite picking an ideal location, the translocation had not been successful. However, it seems the small blues did breed last year and had simply eluded us. ”