15:39 GMT15 May 2021
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    The exclusion zone was established in 1986 around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, considered the worst nuclear disaster in the history of humankind. Less than 100 people died as a result of the explosion of the reactor, but in subsequent years thousands more have died due to exposure to escaped radiation.

    A butterfly with a wingspan the size of small bird was spotted in the Chernobyl exclusion zone by employees of the region's Radiation and Ecological Biosphere Reserve, who reported the encounter on the organization's Facebook page.

    Scientists at the reserve say the butterfly is not a mutation, but a very rare and rather beautiful species; Catocala fraxini, known as the blue underwing.

    "The butterfly has been categorized as a vulnerable species in Ukraine. Catocala fraxini is one of the largest representatives of butterflies living in Ukraine and Europe in general. The length of its forewing can reach 45 mm and the wingspan during flight can reach up to 110 mm. The butterfly is pleasant in flight. Blue underwing is active at night and is attracted to light. When rain stops, we will take the butterfly to its favorite tree – poplar", the reserve said in a statement.

    Chernobyl’s Radiation and Ecological Biosphere Reserve was established in the Chernobyl exclusion zone in 2016 to preserve unique flora and fauna in the region, conduct ecological research and remediate land contaminated with radiation.

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    Tags:
    butterfly, Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Ukraine
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