Butterfly numbers up but still floundering

A High Brown Frittilary

A High Brown Frittilary

First published in News

The number of butterflies in the UK rallied last summer following their worst year on record – but numbers were still below average, a study found.

Some 46 out of the 56 species studied in 2013 recorded an annual increase compared to 2012, the worst butterfly year on record since the study, the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS), began in 1976.

Several rare species revived after 2012 with the Lulworth Skipper up by 162 per cent and the critically endangered High Brown Fritillary up 133 per cent, as both responded to conservation work.

The warm weather saw a huge influx of some migrants with numbers of Clouded Yellow butterflies from the continent up.

Common species such as the Small, Large and Green-veined White, all of which had their worst year on record in 2012, bounced back to above average numbers in 2013 with all three increasing by more than 100 per cent.

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But despite the resurgence, overall numbers were still below average, data gathered by the UKBMS, jointly led by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, revealed.

Dr Tom Brereton, head of monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, said: “The recovery of butterflies in 2013 was highly welcome but there is still a long way to go before butterflies return to former glories.”

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