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Endangered butterfly spreads its wings in England

Warmer temperatures have allowed the Duke of Burgundy butterfly to flourish this year.

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Conservationists have found evidence that the endangered Duke of Burgundy butterfly, which normally reproduces once a year, has reproduced twice this year.

Peter Eeles/National Trust/AP

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A butterfly that is endangered in Britain has made some unexpected gains this summer, conservationists said Wednesday.

The wet and cold British weather means the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly normally reproduces once a year and is confined to the country's southern coast. But conservationists have found evidence that the brown-and-orange butterfly has reproduced twice this year.

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Matthew Oates, a conservation adviser with the National Trust, said a second brood of the declining species has only been recorded three times since 1893.

"I have been waiting for this for a very long time," said Mr. Oates, who has been studying butterflies for 35 years. "It's such a pretty thing and a great character, too."

Oates said warmer temperatures in Britain — closer to those found in southern Europe, where the Duke of Burgundy is also found — have allowed the butterfly to flourish. The butterfly has been spotted in the county of Gloucestershire, much farther north than its usual habitat.

Conservationists believe warmer temperatures will allow even more butterflies — of all species — to flourish. Other species of butterfly could also begin to reproduce twice a year.

"This is the sort of evidence global warming scientists are looking at," he said.

Editor's note: Click here to see a You Tube Video of the butterfly.