Did you know: Scientists bred Chequered Skipper butterfly spies 40 years after extinction

A butterfly that became extinct over 40 years ago has been bred in a secret forest location.

The chequered skipper has been brought back to the UK after wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation embarked on a project which involved bringing butterflies caught in Belgium back to England where they were released in a secret site.

Dr. Nigel Bourn, of the charity Butterfly Conservation, said: “I saw in one tiny butterfly the result of so many peoples’ hard work and dedication that has got us to this point.”

Another group of 24 Belgian Chequered Skippers has also been released at the undisclosed Rockingham Forest site this month. According to a BBC report, the chequered skipper was always scarce but died out in 1976 due to changes to woodland management. The new offspring are from Belgian adults released in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire last year.

Susannah O’Riordan, from the Back from the Brink project, said the team initially thought the British weather meant the butterflies may not mate. “Just after the butterflies emerged it was really cold and damp so they weren’t very active,” she said. She also said there was uncertainty over the effect the mild dry winter would have had, but the experts have now seen the offspring of the Belgian adults.

Dr. Dan Hoarse, from Butterfly Conservation, added: “We are in the second year of a three-year project. We’ll know if it’s a success in the long term when we pick up the butterfly in woodland where we didn’t let it go.”

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