Contact: Chris van Swaay
Caption: Phengaris nausithous (Dusky Large Blue): this rapidly declining butterfly has a remarkable life cycle which involves living underground in ants nests for most of the year. It breeds in wet meadows where its initial caterpillar food-plant, Sanguisorba officinalis (Great Burnet) is abundant. After a short period of feeding in the flower buds the caterpillars are carried underground to live the rest of their lives in the nests of red ants Myrmica rubra. Meadows need to be cut every 1-3 years, or lightly grazed, leaving some patches of taller vegetation which supports the ants nests. Intensive cutting or heavy grazing can eliminate populations.
Credit: Josef Settele
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