Munching Caterpillar News

Wild in Winchester

January 8, 2018

Schools across Hampshire are being invited to sign up for our new Munching Caterpillars project.

Thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), made possible with money raised by National Lottery players, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) is taking its ‘Munching Caterpillars: Wild in Winchester’ project to schoolchildren across the county to teach them about butterflies, moths and the unique habitats they call home.

The schoolchildren will visit our flagship butterfly reserve, Magdalen Hill Down, which sits just outside of Winchester, where experts will lead them in workshops, moth trapping, butterfly surveys and bug hunts. The youngsters will also be taught about the reserve itself and the importance of the wildflowers found there.

BC’s Project Officer, Kate Barrett, said: “This is the first time a free education project like this has come to Hampshire and we’ll be working with the Winchester Science Centre to show children just how important our wildlife is and what they can do to protect and support it.

“We know that green spaces aren’t always accessible to young people in towns or cities, but this is all about bridging that gap and helping them to engage with nature by taking them onto one of our beautiful reserves.”

Magdalen Hill Down is a beautiful expanse of Chalk Downland, one of the UK’s rarest habitats. The site once formed part of a WW1 army camp and is nationally recognised for the many butterfly species it supports – with more than 10,000 seen every year.

The reserve is particularly well known for its abundance of Small Blue and Chalk Hill Blue butterflies.

Kate added: “We are very lucky to have a place like Magdalen Hill Down in Hampshire and it’ll be great to see the kids getting out of their classrooms and exploring the wildlife found there. Hopefully it will inspire some of them to take an interest in protecting habitats like this when they’re older.”

The project will run for at least a year, thanks to additional funding support from Santander, BC’s Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch and donations from the public.

Schools are being asked to sign up for the free activities now as places are limited. Email Kate Barrett kbarrett@butterfly-conservation.org or call 07483 039 325 for more information.