ExtraordinHare

JillyCobbe-Extraordinhare

About the Hare

The Large Blue Butterfly
Maculinea arion
The life cycle of the Large Blue is one of the most extraordinary, involving unimproved, well-drained, limestone grasslands (preferably south-facing), grazing animals, red ants and two specific plants.
In June and July the Large Blue feeds on the flowers of Wild marjoram (Oreganum vulgare) and Wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus) and lays it’s eggs in the buds. The larvae feed on the flowers before dropping to the ground. They trick foraging Red ants (Myrmica sabuleti) into believing they ...
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The Large Blue Butterfly

Maculinea arion

The life cycle of the Large Blue is one of the most extraordinary, involving unimproved, well-drained, limestone grasslands (preferably south-facing), grazing animals, red ants and two specific plants.

In June and July the Large Blue feeds on the flowers of Wild marjoram (Oreganum vulgare) and Wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus) and lays it’s eggs in the buds. The larvae feed on the flowers before dropping to the ground. They trick foraging Red ants (Myrmica sabuleti) into believing they are one of their own grubs by attracting them with sweet secretions from a ‘honey’ gland. The ants take the larvae down into their brood chamber via cracks and holes in the ground. The caterpillar spends the next ten months feeding on grubs before pupating in the nest the following year, crawling above ground to emerge as a new butterfly.

The health of the ant colony is temperature dependent; if the grass is too long the ant colony becomes too cool, so grazing is essential to the success of the ants and consequently the Large Blue.

Such a specific life cycle can make a species vulnerable, as the loss of any single element breaks the cycle. Changes in the habitat of the Large Blue led to its extinction in the UK in 1979.  In the years since then, rigorous research and the dedication of conservationists led to its successful reintroduction to a few sites. However, the work does not stop there as once a colony has been established, ongoing management of the site remains critical to the continued success of this beautiful butterfly, which adds richness and variety to our Cotswold grasslands.

Artist

Jilly Cobbe

Artist Biography

An Access course at Stroud College led on to a BA (Hons) Drawing degree from Swindon College (Oxford Brookes accredited) in 2015. Since then wild life, especially birds of prey, and their conservation, have become increasingly important to my practice. A regular Artist in Residence at Nature in Art I ...
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An Access course at Stroud College led on to a BA (Hons) Drawing degree from Swindon College (Oxford Brookes accredited) in 2015. Since then wild life, especially birds of prey, and their conservation, have become increasingly important to my practice. A regular Artist in Residence at Nature in Art I have also exhibited with Stroud Open Studios and SIT Textile festival.

 

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