The Chequered Skipper is returning to England after 42 years after disappearing in 1976.

This small, fast-flying butterfly, with beautiful gold and brown patterned wings is today confined to western Scotland.

It was once found from Oxfordshire to Lincolnshire but died out when the practice of coppicing and ride management declined and its woodland habitat became overgrown.

At the end of May some 50 Chequered Skipper butterflies were released into Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire, as part of the Back From The Brink project by Butterfly Conservation.

It became extinct in England in 1976 and re-establishment trials have taken place since 1990. In Scotland, there are thought to be about ten core areas and there have been no obvious recent changes in range.

The reintroduction of this vulnerable butterfly into Rockingham Forest offers the opportunity for the charity to monitor:

- How far the butterflies travel from where they are released

- Which areas of woodland the butterflies visit and settle in

- Which plants they nectar on and where they lay their eggs

- When their caterpillars hatch and where they feed and pupate

- How many successfully complete their life cycle, resulting in a new generation of butterflies in 2019

If Butterfly Conservation can determine which habitat the butterflies favour most in Rockingham Forest, it will be able to replicate these conditions more effectively, helping support further reintroductions within the landscape and establishing more breeding populations, which then colonise other woods in the area.


Video credit: Peter Eeles and Butterfly Conservation