On the 24th of October 2018, a team of some thirteen enthusiastic volunteers prepped and planted a number of elm tree saplings in the Community Orchard of Maiden Erlegh Lake with the hope of encouraging the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly to the Nature Reserve. Up until the last few years, the species had not been seen in the area but several recent sightings sparked the interest of keen butterfly enthusiasts.
The inspiration for this project stems from the Earley Environmental Group who contacted local lepidopterists. A bequest by former resident Colin Beard (the father of a lepidopterist) provided the funding for the project. Many years ago, Colin himself was involved in saving the woodland and lake from potential development.
With the help of the Butterfly Conservation’s White-letter Hairstreak expert, it was possible to source saplings resistant to Dutch Elm disease, which, over the years, has taken a heavy toll on the elm tree population. It will take years for the elm trees to become fully established, but with the tireless efforts of groups such as the Wednesday Volunteers, Earley Environmental Group and Earley Town Council’s Park Rangers; they will hopefully once again become an outstanding feature of the Nature Reserve and encourage the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly to the area.