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Butterflies thrive in sand dunes of Barcelona metropolitan beaches

Dune vegetation key to "unexpected" discovery of 17 species


07 May 2022 11:22 AM


ACN | Castelldefels

Sun, sea, sand... and butterflies! Beaches in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB) are acting as a nature reserve for butterflies, according to the results of the third report from the Metropolitan Butterfly Observatory (mBMS).

Dune vegetation is key to providing a habitat for certain species that are thriving better amongst the sand than in the parks in and around the Catalan capital.

Seventeen species of butterflies were identified on the four beaches south of Barcelona that were studied: Castelldefels, Gavà, Viladecans and El Prat.

The most commonly found species are the common blue, the painted lady and the clouded yellow, with the latter two being discovered in larger numbers on beaches than in parks.

The scientific coordinator of the study, Jordi Pino, says that the impact of dune landscapes on the butterfly population was an "unexpected" discovery, describing beaches as areas with "extreme" conditions, with vegetation not normally conducive to encouraging large numbers of insects.

The natural spaces are of particular importance given Greater Barcelona's "highly populated and urbanized" environment, according to Núria Machuca from the AMB.

In total, the study found 2,205 butterflies of 40 different species in a total of 21 spaces. In terms of parks, the most diverse were found to be Pinetons in Ripollet, Canal de la Infanta in Cornellà de Llobregat and Calamot in Gavà.


  • Dunes at Castelldefels beach provide a natural habitat for butterflies (Image courtesy of AMB)

  • Dunes at Castelldefels beach provide a natural habitat for butterflies (Image courtesy of AMB)