Ashwell teen tracks down rare butterfly namesake

AN Ashwell teenager travelled thousands of miles and successfully tracked down a rare butterfly that was named after her.

Intrepid Isobel Talks, of North Field Road, made the trip to Ecuador to find a Pronophila Isobelae, which took her name after the 19-year-old won a World Wildlife Fund competition in 1998.

Isobel was armed with a map and laminated picture of the butterfly and hunted for seven days in the Podocarpus National Park, in the country’s south, before finding the rare insect.

“I wanted to see it just because it was there really,” the 19-year-old said.

“It was named after me and I had to find it. If you ask my family it’s something I’ve said I always would do.”

After traipsing across the hilly park without luck a park guard helped the former student of Knights Templar find the butterfly – near a hut at the park’s entrance – which she had passed every day.

Miss Talks said: “I was there every day, it was where I started my walk and finished my walk.

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“I got it and held it – it was amazing.

“I couldn’t speak for a few minutes, and then I managed to say something.”

The butterfly is so rare it has only been spotted six times and the female of the species has never been seen.

Despite the magnitude of her discovery Miss Talks, who worked at Hotel Chocolat in Royston, wasn’t tempted to pin her catch to a board.

The teenager, who was on a gap year, will head to Durham University to study geography this autumn, and hopes that she will return to Ecuador one day.

“One day I might be protecting the rainforest my butterfly is in”, she said.