THE Malvern Hills are playing the backdrop to a new episode of the BBC's Countryfile.

In the show, which airs next month, presenter Matt Baker comes to the hills to observe rare caterpillars.

Earlier this year, we reported how a local project was being launched to reintroduce the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, a rare and endangered type of butterfly.

Following the success of the appeal, launched by West Midlands Butterfly Conservation, more than £15,000 was raised to fund a captive breeding programme over the next four years.

This week, Matt Baker and his team visited the Eastnor Estate to see one of the three sites where the butterfly will be reintroduced.

Mel Mason, vice-chair of WMBC, said: "Thanks to the generosity of Malvern Hills District Council, WMBC, Malvern Hills AONB, Bromesberrow Estate, Waitrose and lots of individual local supporters, the breeding project is now well underway, and we are rearing caterpillars to overwinter and pupate into butterflies ready for a first reintroduction next spring.

"Although currently in their winter resting state or 'diapause', this autumn has been so mild that some of our caterpillars are coming out to feed on warm days instead of resting ready for spring.

"Without sufficient food the caterpillar will expend too much energy and starve.

"In other words, a warmer winter may be harmful rather than beneficial to our wildlife which has adapted to colder winters.

"One of the caterpillars in our breeding pots even made a brief appearance during the filming – lured out by a sunny spell.

"Butterflies are remarkable indicators of the health of our environment, and so, if we get it right for our rare and endangered butterfly, the chances are that we are getting it right for the rest of our wildlife too."

BBC Countryfile heard about the project and, as well as looking at the warm south facing slopes of bracken and violets, the ideal habitat for the butterfly, Matt Baker even got hands-on with helping to prepare a breeding pot with fresh violet plants for the caterpillars to survive over winter.

BBC Countryfile in the Malvern Hills will be broadcast on Sunday, December 12 on BBC One.