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North Merseyside Biodiversity Action Plan
Grayling Hipparchia semele
1 Current status
The Grayling is a butterfly mostly associated with coastal grasslands. Its caterpillars feed exclusively on grasses, especially fescues, bents and hair-grasses. The adults seek out thistle, bramble and other flowers as sources of nectar and require plentiful areas of bare ground on which to bask to gain sufficient warmth to fly.
The species remains widespread but localised. Some populations are quite distinctive and the many local declines this species has suffered may threaten genetic diversity. Although not a UK Priority Species, the Grayling appeared on the original Long List of the UK BAP and is classified in the Red Data Book as ‘out of danger’.
On Merseyside the Grayling is entirely confined to the Sefton Coast, where it occurs between Hightown and Southport, mostly in more seaward dune habitats.
Sea holly is a particularly important nectar source.