British Wildlife 28.5 June 2017

Britain’s oldest butterfly – a ‘wonderful beautiful’ survivor from Tudor England

You might expect that the oldest British butterfly specimen would be in the drawers of a museum, but it is actually found somewhere quite unexpected… Peter Marren and Martin Warren tell the remarkable story of a 400-year-old butterfly, and take a look at the fascinating world of early butterfly collecting. 

British naturalists have been interested in butterflies for 300 years, and collecting these beautiful insects was a popular hobby from the start. The first systematic account of our butterflies and more conspicuous moths was the History of Insects by John Ray, published posthumously in 1710 but referring to the 1690s.

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