Thriving butterfly and moth population discovered at Cambridgeshire research farm

Small Copper at Bayer CropScience farm in Great Chishill

Small Copper at Bayer CropScience farm in Great Chishill - Credit: Archant

A thriving butterfly and moth population has left staff at a research farm all of a flutter.

Surveys conducted at the Bayer CropScience farm in Great Chishill have concluded that as many as 140 varieties of moth live on the site, along with 23 different species of butterfly.

Included in the list are a number of relatively uncommon butterflies and moths found at the farm, such as the Small Copper, Small Heath and Brown Argus.

Entomologist Jim Reid, an active butterfly recorder in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, carried out the surveys.

He said: “With many acres of flower-rich grassland, numbers of individuals may run into hundreds on large nature reserves.

“Such areas are not practical on a working farm, but the areas set aside at the Bayer site allow for over fifty individuals of the commonest species to be recorded on a single visit, showing that they are well established residents. This is indicative of a site favourable for pollinating insects.”

The population at the farm has thrived since new measures were put in place last year to promote a wide diversity of insects, including bees, butterflies and moths.

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These included mowing more often and removal of clippings and the establishment of marjoram as a forage crop. In addition, an area of the farm was resown using a two year wild bird seed mix, with a view to obtain more flowers and thus more food for pollinators.

Farm manager Andy Blant said, “It seems highly likely that these developments are not a coincidence, but a result of Bayer’s active involvement in taking the necessary measures to offer all pollinators a suitable environment to thrive in.”