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Individual study: Successful reintroduction of the scarce large blue butterfly Maculinea teleius and the dusky large blue butterfly M. nausithous at Moerputten Nature Reserve, Noord Brabant, the Netherlands

Published source details

Wynhoff I. (1998) Lessons from the reintroduction of Maculinea teleius and M. nausithous in the Netherlands. Journal of Insect Conservation, 2, 47-57


The scarce large blue butterfly Maculinea teleius and the dusky large blue M. nausithous are protected under the European Habitats Directive. Their larvae live as parasitic ant-mimics in colonies of mainly Myrmica scabrinodis and exclusively M. rubra, respectively. Both species were lost from the Netherlands in the 1970s due to management change on their hay meadow habitat. This paper gives results six years after reintroducing them at the Moerputten Nature Reserve, Noord Brabant, the Netherlands.

Adult scarce and dusky large blues were caught with nets from meadows in the river Wisla valley, south Poland. They were placed in groups of three in small paper boxes and transported in a refrigerator.

On the evening of 30 July 1990, 86 scarce large blues (33 males, 53 females) and 70 dusky large blues (22 males, 48 females) were released in meadows with a high abundance of great burnet Sanguisorba officinalis, on the 115 ha Moerputten Nature Reserve.
Butterflies were monitored on walked transects every two to three days throughout the flight period from 1990 to 1996. From 1990 to 1993 and 1995 to 1996, population numbers were estimated by marking butterflies and recording recaptured individuals.
Other nature reserves, meadows, road verges and canal banks around the Moerputten Nature Reserve were surveyed after the peak flight period each year.

The scarce large blue initially increased in numbers to an estimated annual population of between 700 and 1000 in 1992. In 1993, 1994 and 1995, estimated population size was about 300. In 1996 the annual population estimate was around 100.

Six years after reintroduction, the scarce large blue remained only on a single meadow where it was released. The meadow had 0.4 to 1.3 host ant (Myrmica scabrinodis) nests/m2 and 15 great burnet plants/m2. Less than 1% of the population was recorded outside this meadow each year.
The dusky large blue increased in numbers from 1992 to 1995. Results estimated a total population of around 600 in 1996. The population deserted the reintroduction site and settled on an old railway embankment with up to six host ant (Myrmica rubra) nests/m2, but a low density of host plants (30 plants in total). A second subpopulation (6-8% of all recaptured individuals) established on nearby road verges from 1993 to 1996.
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