Butterflies decline in washout summer


The awful weather and its impact on butterflies is the big story from Big Butterfly Count 2012. This year’s wash-out summer saw the numbers of common butterflies and day-flying moths fall, but over 25,000 people across the UK still took part in the survey, counting over 223,000 butterflies and day-flying moths.

This year’s results reveal that the numbers of 15 of the 21 species studied fell compared with last year’s figures, raising concerns that the wettest summer in 100 years, combined with a poor spring, has triggered population crashes that could put some already threatened species at risk.

So who were the winners, and who were the losers of this year’s Count? Meadow Brown counts rose by 186%, making this grassland species top of the chart for the first time ever, while Marbled White counts increased by a staggering 503%. Until recently a species associated with chalk grassland on the Downs, Marbled Whites have been expanding their range in London in recent years, and can be expected to appear in Tower Hamlets soon.

The Red Admiral (see photo above by John Archer) fell back sharply with numbers down by 72%. All of the white butterflies declined, as did garden favourites such as the Holly Blue and Brimstone.

For more details of the results, see the Big Butterfly Count website.


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