Biodiversity & Wildlife


cutfield.JPG (20188 bytes) Relatively few small mammals or insects such as butterflies can live in really intensive grassland. This is because the harvesting or grazing regimes have such an effect on the habitat. Even those butterfly species whose caterpillars feed on grasses cannot survive. This is because the grasses are usually of the wrong species. There is also not enough time for the butterfly to complete its lifecycle, as the grass is frequently removed either by grazing or for silage.
beetle.JPG (18248 bytes) However, intensive grasslands host a range of invertebrate life. Moreover, despite the farmer's efforts, there are usually a number of weeds in the grassland. These weeds will also support a variety of invertebrates. For example, a jewel-like leaf beetle, can often be found on Docks. Before egg-laying the female's abdomen becomes grossly extended (left). This is one of many invertebrates encountered on Docks.
peacock.JPG (39428 bytes) Other weeds, including nettles support many invertebrates, from aphids to Peacock Butterfly caterpillars (left). However, the caterpillars will only survive if the nettles are left for long enough for them to complete their life cycle. It is against the farmer's interests to allow nettles to invade the fields. Nevertheless, weeds such as nettles and thistles often survive in the hedges or margins of the fields.


More on butterflies here