Country Life Today: Half a million painted lady butterflies take to the air in ‘once-in-a-decade’ emergence

In today's news round-up we bring you great news for butterflies, and take a look inside a cat hotel that looks plusher than many places we've stayed in.

‘Clouds of Painted Ladies’ spotted in bumper year for butterflies

The results of this summer’s Big Butterfly Count are in — and the numbers are a hugely-welcome shot in the arm for butterfly fans in Britain.

There was a huge rise in many different species, with peacock butterflies up 235% on last year, marbled whites up 264% and red admirals up 138%. The under-threat small tortoiseshell enjoyed its best summer in five years, with around 70,000 spotted.

Painted Lady Butterflies

The biggest winners of all, however, were the painted lady butterflies. 30 times more emerged than normal this year, with over half a million recorded. That’s 30 times more than normal, in an emergence described as a ‘once-in-a-decade’ event.

Butterfly conservationist Dr Zoe Randle told the BBC that there were ‘clouds of painted ladies’ to be seen — great news not just for the butterflies themselves, but also for the hedgehogs and dragonflies which rely upon them as a food source.

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Full story (BBC)

Reintroduction of ponds could bring ancient seeds back to life

Kelling Heath Nature Pond in Norfolk. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo.

A team of conservationists and University College London are working to restore Britain’s ponds.

They hope the project will help encourage wildlife, such as the great crested newt, bees, hoverflies and dragonflies.

It is also anticipated that the reintroduction of ponds will regerminate seeds that have lied dormant for hundreds of years, thanks to the warmth and light the new surroundings will bring.

Full story (Country Life)

Research reveals ancient man drank milk

neolithic milk consumption

A jaw bone from the study, from the collections of the Dorset County Museum. Credit: Dr Sophy Charlton, University of York.

Researchers taking samples from Neolithic remains from British sites have discovered the earliest evidence of milk consumption in humans.

The team, led by archaeologists at the University of York, took dental plaque samples from seven individuals who lived around 6,000 years ago.

The remains from all three sites showed the presence of milk proteins from cows, sheep or goats, suggesting people were exploiting multiple species for dairy products.

Full story (Country Life)

On this day…

Daniel Defoe was born in London on 13 September, 1660. The British novelist’s most famous work, Robinson Crusoe, is second only to the Bible in its number of translations.

Badger cull is extended to 11 new areas across England

The badger cull brought in to try and quell the rise in bovine TB has been expanded to 11 new areas in England, including Bristol, Cheshire, Devon, Cornwall, Staffordshire, Dorset, Herefordshire and Wiltshire.

Natural England has approved the extension as part of government efforts to control tuberculosis in cattle, but those opposed to the cull say the practice is ‘ineffective and inhumane’.

The government agency has also authorised licence holders to resume operations in 29 existing areas.

Full story (BBC)

77-year-old British woman is oldest person to sail around world

Jeanne Socrates, 77, has become the oldest person to sail around the world, non-stop and unassisted.

The former maths teacher from Hampshire took 320 days to complete her voyage, landing in Victoria, Canada, earlier this month.

‘If you have your health, then live your life. These chances aren’t there for ever,’ she said.

Full story (Country Life)

And finally… Feline in need of a break?

If you’ve ever felt guilty for leaving your feline friend at a cattery, reserving them a room at Essex’s Lawlor Cat Hotel should put your mind at rest.

The luxurious setting boats 23 suites, featuring floor to ceiling windows, plush sofas and beds. Plus there’s an impressive menu offering monk fish, tiger prawns and even beluga caviar.

If your kitty is in need of a makeover, the hotel spa lists a range of grooming services, including dematting and clips. And for those based further afield, a limo service can ferry your cat to and from the countryside accommodation, with 24-hour CCTV giving you complete peace of mind. Purrfect.

Full story (Metro)