Country diary: the butterflies are fading, but one still shines

Country diary: the butterflies are fading, but one still shines

Morfa Harlech, Gwynedd: This silver-studded blue is a survivor, and it has a story to tell too

A tiny blue flash, brighter than the sky above, catches the eye and tells an inspiring story. The surrounding trees are dense and dark with that coarse green of the dog days, but there is a verge of grasses, wildflowers and heather, relict of an old heath before the plantations, running either side of the abandoned road.

The blue flash is a butterfly – a silver-studded blue Plebejus argus – and it makes the heart skip a beat. There are very few of them about and they look knackered. Their wings have chunks bitten out and they have lost so many of those scales that refract blue light that they are almost transparent. The butterflies are losing focus, fading away. This is partly because the adult insects are at the end of their lifecycle, and partly because so little of their habitat remains. Insects everywhere are threatened by so many of our activities that it is necessary to sharpen our focus on them to understand the wonderful connections they make in the world we share.

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