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The Strange Tale of the Football Pitch and the Butterfly

Posted: Monday 3rd July 2017 by WildCommunities

There’s been a sprinkling of magic and mystery in Ystradgynlais over the last few years, in which nature has reclaimed a meadow where goals were once scored and championships won. Now the victory is being had by the rare Marsh Fritillary Butterfly, which is flourishing in the unique location of Brecknock Wildlife Trust’s Cae Lynden Nature Reserve, former home of the Cwm Wanderers.

The Marsh Fritillary is a very special and rare butterfly. It is quite a fussy little soul, preferring to lay its eggs on Devil's-bit-Scabious and only to eat certain plants. Its favourite dish is Devil's-bit-Scabious. On calcareous grassland, it occasionally eats Field Scabious and Small Scabious. At a push it will eat Ribwort Plantain and Honeysuckle growing in hedgerows. (As I said, fussy!)

The Marsh Frit is an especially beautiful butterfly, and I can say from experience that the first time you see one will be truly special. Its complex wing patterns and array of burnt orange colours are much more striking than those of any other Fritillaries.

Cae Lynden, despite its size and history as a football field, is one of the top 5 sites in the whole of Wales for Marsh Fritillaries! This is due to its magic combination of delicious Devils Bit Scabious, thick dry Molinia Grass (in which the butterflies hide from the rain) and managed pony grazing (creating different grass-sward heights for the combination of laying eggs lower down, and hiding from predators in the higher grass). It is of great importance that we continue to manage, survey and protect this special site. Luckily we have a Volunteer Warden, who looks out for it, and a plan of management to make sure it stays a special home for these struggling gems.


We are running a free, guided butterfly walk on Friday the 28th July, starting at 10am at Diamond Park car park Ystradgynlais, and finishing between 1 and 2pm in the same place. We will be walking a quiet 2 mile (approx) route around Ystradgynlais, Diamond Park and our nature reserves, with 3-4 stops to count butterflies as part of a huge national effort to record their numbers. The route is suitable for all ages, through it does involve some sloping roads and steps so may be unsuitable for those with mobility issues or in wheelchairs we are afraid.

CALL 01639 844 273 to book on (so we know to expect you!)

Till next time! Sarah, Wild Communities Project Assistant



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