The vanishing small blue: why butterfly is starving

butterflyLittle bigger than a 10p piece, one of 's smallest butterflies is fighting for existence on the most northerly edge of its range.

Although common among the sheltered open spaces of , from northern to Scandinavia, and across Asia and Mongolia, the small blue, aka , is just about clinging on to life in the north of Scotland.

As one of nature's most fussy eaters, the tiny creature eats only the yellow flowers of the kidney vetch plant which often grows among sheltered grasslands along the coastal areas of Britain, in man-made habitats such as quarries, gravel pits, road embankments and disused railway lines.

However, increasing pressure from human development, changing agricultural practices and coastal use has driven the tiny butterfly into just a few remaining selected strongholds in the south of England and northern Scotland.

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