Saving rare butterflies in Dutch sand dunes

Tree grayling male butterfly, photo by Hectonichus

This photo shows a male tree grayling butterfly.

In the Netherlands, and in all of north-west Europe, this species lives only in one area: the Kootwijkerzand sand dunes.

Translated from the Dutch Butterfly Foundation, 26 July 2018:

Tree grayling butterflies usually don’t mind drought. Their favorite habitat, dry drift sand, consists of bare sand, poor open grasslands with the host plant [for their caterpillars] grey hair-grass, in a few places bits of heather and a single tree. During the day it easily gets 40 degrees there and because of the big radiation it can be freezing at night, even in summer.

So, tree grayling butterflies are lovers of extremes and also of drought, but things can go too far. Due to the long-term drought of 2018, we see that almost all heather is dried up and hardly or not in bloom. Heather is the main source of nectar for the butterflies and without nectar they can fly much less and reproduce much less. In addition, the butterflies will roam away from the heathland. Hoping to find flowering plants somewhere they will fly out of the Kootwijkerzand. There are already frequent reports of rock grayling, sooty copper and silver-spotted skipper butterflies from gardens and city parks. The tree grayling [adults] will appear in the coming weeks. The fear exists that, like the rock graylings, it will move away from its habitat. …

Meaning the tree grayling butterflies will not find grey hair-grass to lay eggs on; so, they will not reproduce.

That is why the Butterfly Foundation and the Forest Department decided to temporarily place (probably for a week or three) nectar parks. In these places mortar tubs have been placed containing all kinds of flowering plants. There is European goldenrod, devil’s-bit, pigeon’s scabious, thyme, brownray knapweed, blue button, bird’s-foot trefoils and even butterfly-bushes. …

Nectar parks are surrounded by a grid, because otherwise they will probably be eaten by deer the first night. We will regularly check whether and which butterflies visit the flowers and we will also have to water regularly to ensure that the plants continue to flower.

This morning, Dutch Vroege Vogels radio reported that rock grayling, silver-spotted skipper and small heath butterflies had already visited the flowers.


Butterflies in the Netherlands, video

This 24 July 2018 video shows various butterfly species in the Grote Peel nature reserve in the Netherlands. Including brimstone, green-veined white, etc.

Hans Melters made this video.

Crested tit, damselfly, butterfly, flowers photos

Crested tit, July 2018

This early July 2018 photo shows a crested tit near Gorsselse Heide nature reserve in the Netherlands.

Water lily, July 2018

The Gorsselse Heide is a wet heathland area. Meaning flowers like these water lilies were there as well.

Water lily flower, July 2018

Shy emerald damselfly, July 2018

So was this shy emerald damselfly.

Flowering grass, July 2018

Many plants, like these flowering grasses.

Sundew, July 2018

And these sundew plants.

Sundew, in July 2018

Green-veined white, July 2018

Finally, this green-veined white butterfly.

Apollo butterfly wins in Alpe d’Huez, France

This video says about itself:

Summary – Stage 12 – Tour de France 2018

19 July 2018

From Saturday 7th of July to Sunday 29th of July 2018, the 105th Tour de France includes 21 stages for a total length of 3351 kilometers.

THOMAS Geraint won the stage in Alpe d’Huez before DUMOULIN Tom and BARDET Romain.

THOMAS Geraint is the Yellow Jersey.

Yesterday, 19 July was not only a victory for Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas in the famous mountain stage to Alpe d’Huez.

Dutch daily Trouw also reported then on a victory for the rare Apollo butterfly, living in a mountain habitat.

This 2017 German video shows how this species grows up in a mountain environment, from caterpillar to butterfly.

There were plans to build more hotels in Alpe d’Huez, Trouw writes. However, these plans have now been stopped, as they might have negative impact on the Apollo butterflies living around Alpe d’Huez.

Beautiful flowers and butterflies, photos

Rammelwaard, July 2018

The early July 2018 photos in this blog post are from the Rammelwaard nature reserve (shown on this photo) in the Veluwe region, near the IJssel river in the Netherlands.

Grass rush, Rammelwaard, July 2018

There were many beautiful flowers in the Rammelwaard. Like these grass rush flowers.

Grass rush, in the Rammelwaard, July 2018

Chamomile fowers, Rammelwaard, July 2018

And like these chamomile flowers.

Chamomile fowers, in the Rammelwaard, July 2018

Brimstone, in the Rammelwaard, July 2018

These beautiful flowers attracted beautiful butterflies. Like this male brimstone on a purple lythrum flower.

Common blue male, in the Rammelwaard, July 2018

And this male common blue butterfly, also on a purple lythrum flower.

Common blue butterflies mating, Rammelwaard, July 2018

These two blue butterflies were mating. Usually, it is difficult to photograph butterflies, as they move often and fast. However, these two stayed at the same spot for half an hour. Still, it was not easy to tell which species this male (left) and female (right) were: common blue or brown argus? Common blue, I think after all. The photo shows fluid passing between the bodies of these two butterflies.

Good Dutch rare butterfly news

This 2016 video is about large copper butterflies.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Conservationists surprised by resurrection of large large copper butterfly

Things are wonderful for the rare large copper butterfly in the Netherlands. In the Frisian nature reserve Brandemeer, between Wolvega and Tjeukemeer lake, the animal is currently flying in large numbers.

That’s noteworthy, because at the end of last year all seemed to be over for the large copper butterfly in the region. The Butterfly Foundation sounded the alarm because a contractor had dredged the ditches in the Brandemeer too rigorously.

The contractor had scrapped all water plants from the ditch; including the protected butterfly’s caterpillars wintering there. The foundation feared that almost ninety percent of the eggs had disappeared.

More robust than thought

It turned out that was not true. “The large copper butterfly, a rare butterfly of peat marshes, appears to be more robust than thought”, the Butterfly Foundation says. There are many butterflies and even more eggs than last year. According to Omrop Fryslân broadcasting organisation, it is not clear why. It may be that in the ditches young plants have come up where the butterflies could deposit the eggs. It may also be that there were enough caterpillars in the vicinity of the dredged ditches.

A third possibility, according to the Butterfly Foundation, is that a small number of butterflies has flown very well because of the good butterfly weather [warm summer] of the past few weeks, and has deposited a lot of eggs.

Great relief

Not only for the Butterfly Foundation, but also for Staatsbosbeheer [Forestry Department], this is a “great relief”, according to the Nature Today website. Staatsbosbeheer has done much in the Brandemeer in recent years to create a nice habitat for the large copper butterfly and other marsh inhabitants such as the bittern, the otter and whiteface dragonflies.