Bringing back the Chequered skipper butterfly to English woodlands
The chequered skipper butterfly became extinct in England in 1976 as a result of habitat loss. In recent years woodland management has resulted in suitable habitat being recreated and in 2016 plans for a formal reintroduction of the species were approved. A collaboration was formed between Natural England, Butterfly Conservation, Back from the Brink and ZSL, and a suitable donor population was found in the Belgian Ardenne forests. The first translocations of chequered skipper butterflies from Belgium to England were successfully carried out in the spring of 2018 and again in 2019 and post release monitoring has already provided evidence that the newly established populations are thriving once again in English woodlands.
As part of project preparations in 2016, the DRAHS team at ZSL carried out a disease risk analysis (DRA) for the planned wild-to-wild translocation of the chequered skipper butterfly and found that the health risks to donor and recipient populations were acceptably low. The DRAHS team also produced a disease risk management (DRM) and post-release health surveillance (PRHS) protocol which provided detailed management guidelines on managing and mitigating any risks of disease that could occur. The DRAHS vets also accompanied the translocation team on to the trip to Belgium and back to England to help advise on best practice biosecurity and carry out clinical examinations on the butterflies.
The successful translocation and reintroduction of the chequered skipper butterfly to English woodland.
A species recovery programme carried out with best practice disease risk management and post-release health surveillance.
Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)
The chequered skipper butterfly is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species, protected by legislation in England and in Scotland where a stable but restricted population has endured. The species is relatively common in continental Europe and north America.