Britain’s butterflies have seen a welcome resurgence in numbers this year, thanks to the long spells of warm weather, according to a nationwide survey. And there’s nothing better when out walking in the summer months than to be surrounded by these wonderful creatures fluttering by.
The annual Big Butterfly Count took place in July and August this year with 46,000 volunteers counting how many of 21 common species they saw in a 15 minute period. The volunteers spotted a total of 830,000 insects, with the small white at the top of the list of sightings, followed by the large white and the peacock. Fifteen of the species in the Big Butterfly Count showed increased numbers, 12 of which were up by more than 50%.
"Put simply, butterflies are cold-blooded creatures that rely on the warmth of the sun in order to be active," said Butterfly Conservation's survey manager Richard Fox. "The hot summer this year meant that some butterfly species, which were in their early life cycle stages when the heat wave began were able to capitalise on it giving rise to high numbers of adults during the count in late July and early August."
Flying in the face of recent worrying declines, sightings of small tortoiseshells and peacocks rose by a staggering 388% and 3,500% respectively on 2012 figures. This is positive news but conservationists warn that the battle on behalf of our beautiful butterflies is not over.
"UK butterflies are in long-term decline. Long-term studies going back to the 1970s show that three quarters of UK butterfly species have declined in range and many have also decreased in abundance," said Mr Fox. "The only way that we will be able to halt and reverse the long-term declines of these beautiful creatures is by redressing the damage that has been done to wildlife habitats across the UK landscape."
To see the full results of this year’s survey, or find out how to take part next year visit
To see some butterflies for yourself, why not make a note to try one of these butterfly-filled walks next summer
And why not plan ahead now to set aside a small patch of your garden to grow bee and butterfly friendly flowers such as Verbena, Aquilegia, Knapweed, Borage and Poppies. You can find some great ready-made seed mixes, seed mats or plug plant collections that make life really simple. I’ve been growing a patch myself this year and I can highly recommend it.
17 September 2013