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Brimstones & Buckthorn Project

BrimstoneGreenwings are proud to have supported the following project in their home county of Suffolk…

In 1998 the Brimstones and Buckthorn project was launched with Suffolk Branch of Butterfly Conservation, Ipswich Organic Gardeners Group, Ipswich Wildlife Group and the Wildlife Rangers at Ipswich Borough Council. The project was based upon the fact that female Brimstone butterflies are very good at finding their caterpillar food plant Buckthorn on which to lay eggs, from afar.

In just two years, over 2000 bushes of both Common Buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica and Alder Buckthorn Frangula alnus were planted in the target area, and female Brimstones soon homed in with the first one turning up during fine sunny weather at a home in Bildeston on May Day, 1999.

The initiative aimed at getting people involved in growing Buckthorn bushes to attract breeding Brimstone butterflies which were scarce in the East of the county of Suffolk and was a wildlife gardening exercise. Today the butterfly is much more common in parts of Suffolk, due to these efforts.

Thirteen years later and Suffolk Branch of Butterfly Conservation rolled out ‘Brimstones and Buckthorn’ once again. The aim was to increase both the range and number of Brimstones seen in the parts of Suffolk where the butterfly continued to be elusive, whilst at the same time getting more people involved in wildlife gardening and in caring for the wider environment.

£1,600 of funding was achieved for the project, which included £500 from Suffolk Naturalists’ Society and further help from HSBC.

In April 2011, the campaign was launched at Jimmy Doherty’s Farm, along with BBC wildlife presenter Steve Backshall, during the opening of Jimmy’s butterfly house. Jimmy, Steve and Rob Parker, Suffolk’s county recorder for butterflies planted three buckthorns in Jimmy’s wildlife garden. It was great to have around 75 people and 3 schools sign up to Brimstones and Buckthorn, and moreover, to see literally hundreds of children and parents enthralled by both Jimmy and Steve’s captivating appeal to get involved with insects and wildlife.

In October 2011, the campaign was publicised in the local press to attract more participants, resulting in over 2,000 bare-rooted whips being sent out to ‘customers’. Bushes were free and recipients were asked to monitor growth and look out for Brimstones and egg laying activity over the following two years. The results can be viewed on the interactive map below.

If you see Brimstones in the County of Suffolk please contact or Rob Parker at

View new Brimstones map in a larger map.


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