Devils Bit Scabious, besides being one of my favourite wild flowers, is a vital food plant for Marsh Fritillary butterflies. At Treshnish we have lots of scabious growing in our fields but unfortunately, as yet, none of the butterflies. We are doing what we can to change that through careful management and grazing but so far, no luck. There are several other sites on the island where they can be found, including near the council dump at Tobermory.
Last year I went on a Butterfly Conservation Scotland course to try and understand our elusive butterfly and its needs a little more. It was exciting looking for the Marsh Fritillary ‘webs’ on a known site outside Oban. We were being taught to survey for webs.
In our system, cows are essential as they munch at the bulk of the summer growth of grasses, bringing it to the height that the sheep can then graze. This photograph shows them grazing in the ‘field with no name’, where we found quite a lot of Devil’s Bit Scabious coming into flower yesterday when we went to check the cows.