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11:20AM

Marbled White update

On Thursday I posted a piece about a new colony of Marbled Whites near Scotts Float at Playden. This bit of river bank has always been part of Bob Greenhalf's regular WeBS route which I and many others have also walked at least monthly every year, so we know it very well and can confirm we have never found this butterfly there before. Yesterday I revisited the site with Keith Palmer to do a botanical survey, finding at least a dozen, possibly 14, Marbled Whites including a pair definitely mating and perhaps a second female. The larval food plants are usually listed as Red and Sheep's Fescues, Yorkshire Fog, Timothy, Cocksfoot and Tor Grass. We could find neither of the fescues but did find Timothy and Cocksfoot grasses. (Interestingly, we also found a locally scarce Ringlet butterfly which also feeds on Tor Grass, so we might have missed that species among the rank vegetation.) In Sussex, Marbled Whites used to be almost confined to the chalk downs but have spread throughout the western Weald and north into the eastern Low Weald, though they remain very localised in the High Weald; east of Eastbourne they were found in only 14 tetrads in the 2010-14 county atlas. But they are continuing to spread, so worth looking out for anywhere.

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