Endangered butterfly species now growing thanks to golf greenkeepers

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim October 4, 2016 12:08

A species of butterfly that had been in decline for a number of years is now growing in Ayrshire thanks to greenkeepers working at golf clubs.

Golf is often seen as a threat to flora and fauna but this is a clear case of the game helping a local habitat.


The small blue butterfly is Britain’s smallest resident butterfly and lives mainly in southern England and coastal parts of Scotland.

However, it had been absent from Ayrshire since the 1980s. As a result of this the Scottish Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Butterfly Conservation Scotland and local links golf courses, created a project that has led the expansion of its habitat.

The butterfly only eats kidney vetch and so greenkeepers on a number of links courses have sown kidney vetch by their courses – with others following suit later in the year, giving the butterfly a larger area to colonise following a carefully managed translocation in 2013.

The species bred successfully for the third year in a row on the Gailes Marsh reserve and neighbouring Dundonald Links this summer.

Kidney vetch is part of the clover family of plants and thrives on sandy soil, so courses on the Ayrshire coast are a perfect place for growing it.


Paul Kirkland, of Butterfly Conservation Scotland, said: “The settled weather of the early summer was ideal for seeing small blues on the wing this year.

“Our members observed them mating and laying eggs almost daily and we are very hopeful that this small population will spread and grow as their habitat expands.”

The R&A, golf’s governing body, is supporting the habitat enhancement work with £33,000 of funding from 2015 to 2018.

Steve Isaac, director of golf course management at The R&A, said: “The continued success of the small blue is exciting news and an example of how golf courses can help protect and conserve our wildlife.”


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim October 4, 2016 12:08
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