Over 4000 Common and Alder Buckthorn bushes, the foodplant of the caterpillars, have been planted, mostly in gardens. Female Brimstone butterflies are very good at finding the foodplant so there should be an increase in numbers.
The map below shows the main planting areas and will also be used to record sightings of the butterflies. If you see Brimstones in the County of Suffolk, please contact or Rob Parker at
View new Brimstones map in a larger map. This will display in a new tab. Scroll to the bottom of the left pane (the list of entries) and click on 3 to see a larger scale.
In 1998 Julian Dowding spearheaded the Brimstones and Buckthorn project with Suffolk Branch of Butterfly Conservation, Ipswich Organic Gardeners Group, Ipswich Wildlife Group and the Wildlife Rangers at Ipswich Borough Council. The project was based upon the fact that female Brimstone butterflies are very good at finding their caterpillar food plant Buckthorn on which to lay eggs, from afar. In just two years, over 2000 bushes of both Common Buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica and Alder Buckthorn Frangula alnus were planted in the target area, and female Brimstones soon homed in with the first one turning up during fine sunny weather at a home in Bildeston on May Day, 1999. The initiative aimed at getting people involved in growing Buckthorn bushes to attract breeding Brimstone butterflies which were scarce in the East of the county of Suffolk and was a wildlife gardening exercise. Today the butterfly is much more common in parts of Suffolk, due to these efforts.
Although it may again take a couple of years for the bushes to attract Brimstones, we are sure that it will be worth the wait and have a certain expectation this time around, due to the Brimstone's proven ability to find the bush.