Scottish greenkeepers are giving the UK's smallest butterfly the ideal space to spread its wings.
The Small Blue butterfly had been absent from Ayrshire since the 1980s but its habitat is now expanding, thanks to a project led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust in partnership with Butterfly Conservation Scotland and local links golf courses.
The species bred successfully for the third year in a row on the Gailes Marsh reserve and neighbouring Dundonald Links this summer, thanks to work to create large areas of kidney vetch - the butterfly's only food plant - and a carefully managed translocation in 2013.
Greenkeepers on a number of links courses have now sown kidney vetch and others are following suit later in the year, giving the butterfly a larger area to colonise.
Kidney vetch is part of the clover family of plants and thrives on sandy soil, so courses on the Ayrshire coast are perfect place for growing it.
Paul Kirkland, of Butterfly Conservation Scotland, said: "The settled weather of the early summer was ideal for seeing small blues on the wing this year.
"Our members observed them mating and laying eggs almost daily and we are very hopeful that this small population will spread and grow as their habitat expands."
The R&A, golf's governing body, is supporting the habitat enhancement work with £33,000 of funding from 2015 to 2018.
Steve Isaac, director of golf course management at The the R&A, said: "The continued success of the small blue is exciting news and an example of how golf courses can help protect and conserve our wildlife."
You can read the original article from The Herald Scotland HERE