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Drawer of butterflies, Copper, Large Blue Blue, Victorian

  • Copper and Blue butterflies

Copper and Holly Blue Butterflies Drawer

G.B. Routledge collected many species of butterflies between the 1890s and the 1920s. As a wealthy man, he could afford to spend time on his collection, and many Victorians have founded scientifically important insect collections. His collection is now owned by Tullie House.

These drawers help us to identify current species, and study changes in butterfly numbers through changes to climate and habitat. This is helpful for conservation.

In this drawer:

The Adonis Blue - found in chalky areas, where horseshoe vetch grows. It has a specific distribution in the Southern counties in Britain.

The Large Blue - extinct from Britain in 1979, but is now being re-introduced from Sweden. It became extinct through the loss of its habitat by increased grazing of livestock in grassland areas. This butterfly has a complicated life cycle. The larvae (which develop into butterflies) are parasitic, and eat the grubs of red ants that live in grassy areas. The loss of grassy areas led to the loss of ant colonies, and through that, the loss of the butterfly species. This shows how interconnected many species of wildlife are, and how small changes can have a big effect on wildlife.

The Small Copper - males from this species are highly territorial, and typically, these butterflies are only seen in ones and twos, rather than higher numbers. These butterflies are spread throughout Britain and the caterpillars like in particular the leaves of sorrel and dock. The large copper is now extinct from Britain.

The Holly Blue - widespread in Britain including Cumbria, although Cumbria is the top of its range. These butterflies are often seen in towns, where holly and ivy commonly grow, since the caterpillars feed on these leaves.

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Key facts: 
  • This drawer of butterflies is part of the G.B. Routledge collection
  • These help to identify specific butterfly species and monitor modern changes to butterfly numbers to help conservation

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