Smallest UK butterfly returns to Scotland


Britain’s most diminutive butterfly – the small blue – is back in Ayrshire for the first time since the 1980s.

The Irvine to Girvan Nectar Network, co-funded by golf charity the FairWays Foundation in conjunction with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, is a project to bring wildflower meadows back to the famous coastline.

Network coordinator Lynne Bates has been visiting clubs up and down the coast to supply flower seeds to help create a continuous habitat, while also linking the courses with local nature reserves.

The region is home to multiple major championship venues, including the birthplace of the Open Championship at Prestwick.

“Just tweaking the management of an area can make a huge difference,” Bates was quoted as saying in a Guardian article.

Kidney vetch is now widespread in Scotland and coastal UK courses, the plant the small blue needs for its caterpillars.

Bates added how she had seen one greenkeeper posting on Twitter about solitary mining bees making a home in a course bunker. 

Bates described flat, sandy bunkers, with at least one edge left uncut, as “invertebrate sun traps.” 

Golf course architects and course maintenance staff have been on a drive lately to favor the natural look, with long, tufted grass in and around bunkers an increasingly common feature.

Kidney vetch has increased significantly at Operation Pollinator 2022 Award winner Newquay Golf Club.

A comprehensive Ecological Rough Management Plan started in 2020/21 is "paying dividends", head greenkeeper Dan Kendle told Syngenta Turf.

He added: “There’s been an increase in wildflower populations in areas which we have cut and scarified, including yellow rattle, kidney vetch, birds-foot trefoil and pyramidal orchids.” 

Newquay have also constructed a bug hotel on the course, providing refuge for insects and invertebrates.