Code of Practice
butterflies has increased enormously with the advent of digital
cameras and easy availability of information on the internet. This
interest is beneficial to butterflies as it highlights their
importance and encourages the conservation of their habitats.
Unfortunately there are a few adverse side-effects - in particular
it can place a burden on sensitive species and fragile sites,
hence this Code which has been developed in consultation with
several conservationists, ecologists and members of the
butterfly-watching public :
butterflies can aid conservation.
It confirms the presence of species that cannot be
identified in the field, and provides proof in the form of voucher
specimens that certain species exist at given sites.
This proof of the existence
of rarities or high biodiversity
increases the conservation value of a site and is
required by governments when considering the
allocation of protected status to wildlife habitats.
butterflies in Britain as part of a mark
project enables ecologists to
understand population dynamics and leads to an increased
understanding of conservation
requirements. It is also educationally valid for a field meeting
leader to capture butterflies temporarily to demonstrate
identification features to less experienced attendees, thereby
increasing their knowledge, and their commitment to conserving
British, European or North American
butterflies is unnecessary as all
species can be identified ALIVE, and in most cases without netting, let alone killing them,
simply by carrying one of the many excellent field guides.
Amassing specimens like postage stamps, or capturing / purchasing
them for wall displays is selfish, illegal and utterly
degradation or destruction of habitats has caused most
European butterflies to decline catastrophically in recent
decades. Many species are now found only in low numbers, and at
just a handful of sites. Killing or removing butterflies from such
vulnerable populations can easily cause local extinctions.
are mostly nocturnal, so the only way to record them is by sugaring or
trapping. It should however be carried out with constraint.
In Europe most species, with the exception of certain "micros" can be identified
alive. There is no valid excuse to kill
for identification can prove
the conservation value of a site, and if carried out on a small
scale does no long-term harm to populations.
Subsequent release of
the moths is often done in an irresponsible
- moths tipped into a patch of long grass at dawn will very quickly fall prey to birds.
should be kept cool to minimise activity and
prevent dehydration. They should be returned to the original
capture site the following night, and released
after dark, when they at least have a
chance of survival.
If moth trapping enthusiasts are not prepared to
go to these lengths they should refrain from trapping entirely.
There seems little harm in capturing
an occasional female butterfly or moth for breeding.
Rearing from eggs to adults encourages a deeper interest, and
thereby increases the likelihood that the rearer will progress to
take an interest in conservation.
Disposing of surplus livestock however creates major conservation issues
common practice of dumping surplus livestock is highly
irresponsible, and worse than killing them - bred stock will be
genetically weaker, will emerge out of sync with wild populations,
may attract high numbers of parasitoids and predators to the
release site, and causes havoc with recording schemes.
best studied and appreciated alive and in
their natural environment.
can be studied through binoculars,
cameras, painting, drawing, or
simply by keeping notes on their behaviour. The pleasure of
seeing a butterfly feeding at a flower, or
studying its courtship behaviour, is a million times more
satisfying than looking at a
butterfly in a
cage, or a dead specimen in a display case.
wildlife habitats were contiguous, butterflies could
naturally recolonise sites from which they had temporarily been
lost. Unfortunately, habitats are severely fragmented, and most
butterfly species are very sedentary in nature, so natural
recolonisations are rare.
Because of this, conservation organisations sometimes capture
females from strong and healthy populations, and transfer them to
former sites so that artificial recolonisation can occur.
Increasing fragmentation of habitats and isolation of colonies
means that re-introductions will become a
vital conservation tool in the future.
MUST however be
carried out professionally with a full understanding of the
effect on donor populations, and suitable
long-term habitat management in place at the receiving site, which must be
analysed in great detail to assess it's suitability.
Transects, mark and recapture programs, and continual monitoring
of the larval foodplants and adult nectar
sources must be in place, otherwise the reasons for the success or
failure of a re-introduction cannot be understood.
Many popular butterfly
suffer from intense visitor
pressure, causing disturbance
damage to fragile habitats, and diminishing the
tranquillity of the countryside.
generally pro-conservation, and welcome
the public on their property, but are likely to be considerably
less sympathetic if their land is subjected to large numbers
visiting popular sites at peak times in order to
alleviate the pressure on such sites. Visit mid-week if you can or
visit less well-known sites.
then have the place to
yourself, with just the birds and butterflies for company.
Photographers should be aware of
the unwitting damage they can cause by trampling
of foodplants and nectar sources, or disturbing nesting
birds. Keep to footpaths
wherever possible, and abide by requests to stay out of particular areas.
Be an ambassador for butterfly conservation.
people you meet to
take an interest in butterflies. Tell them about
learnaboutbutterflies so they can find out more, in their own time.
and webmasters should be alert to the danger of
publicising sensitive species or fragile sites - several such
sites in southern England have been damaged by
excessive visitor pressure as a result of over-enthusiastic
site information. We encourage people to
explore the lesser known sites, particularly in their local area.
About 90 percent of the British butterfly photographs on this
website were taken within a 20 mile radius of the webmaster's home !
Get to know your local habitats intimately. By concentrating
on local sites, you can spend more time watching
photographing butterflies, less time travelling, and save fuel.
a good idea to obtain 1:10,000 scale
maps covering a radius of 20 miles of
your home. Different habitat types
such as deciduous woodland, coniferous woodland or grassland
are clearly indicated, enabling you to detect many
Most of us to travel long distances
to see species such as Black Hairstreaks, Swallowtails or
Chequered Skippers, but local sites can reward you with many
surprises - A few years ago I regularly travelled 40 miles
to a particular wood to see Silver-washed Fritillaries and White
Admirals. Then I suddenly found myself unemployed for 2 months and was forced to limit myself to
local sites that could be reached cheaply by public transport.
Surprisingly I discovered thriving populations of both species in a
previously unvisited woodland just 3 miles from my home.
Another local wood was found to have Purple Emperors and several
rare moths !
We only have one lifetime to fulfil our dreams, and many of us
have a deep longing to visit rainforests and other distant
habitats to watch butterflies, birds and other animals. But, with holes in
the ozone layer, mounting carbon emissions, and global warming
threatening the planet, how can we justify the long-haul flights ?
Because eco-tourism is a powerful conservation tool.
Consider places like the Danum Valley rainforest in Borneo,
which only survives because of the
demand by eco-tourists for it's retention, and the increased
employment and wealth generated by eco-tourism. The same can be
said of much of the Amazon, the cloudforests of the Andes, the
game parks of East Africa, the tiger reserves of India, the
orang-utan reserves of Kalimantan etc.
Without the income and
employment generated by eco-tourism, these wonderful places would
simply not exist any more. The precious little of the natural
world which remains would be cultivated or urbanised out of
the forest more valuable standing, than it is when cut down"
- Marina Silva, Brazilian Environment Minister.