Just received an update from Dr Owen Lewis, the manager of the Sturmia bella project, a project set up to investigate the role of Sturmia bella in the decline of the Small Tortoishell (Aglais urticae) butterfly.
I have attached his first-year report below (in PDF format) and it makes interesting reading. While Sturmia is undoubtably a very common parasitoid of Small Tortoishell it is by no means certain that it is responsible in any significant way for the decline in the UK population. However, the project is still ongoing and more data is necessary before any real conclusions can be made.
I’ll let Owen have the last words, from his email to me:
For 2009 we are continuing our survey and are hoping to get volunteers to send in lots more samples from a wide range of locations. My colleague Dr Sofia Gripenberg will be working with me on the project in 2009. Here in Oxfordshire we’ve already found some final instar small tortoiseshell larvae.
We are updating the project website, have slightly modified the instructions to volunteers, and have established a new project email address to allow us both to process information coming in from volunteers; the email address (fortunately still available courtesy of Google) is of course firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to all of you for your input into this project.
Dr Owen T. Lewis, Department of Zoology,
University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS
Tel: +44 (0)1865 271162; Fax: +44 (0)1865 310447