MANY of the UK’s rare spring butterflies have emerged weeks earlier than expected because of mild weather, Butterfly Conservation says.

One of the UK’s rarest species – the Lulworth Skipper – emerged on May 21, more than a month earlier than last year. And the threatened Glanville Fritillary emerged on April 29, four weeks earlier than in 2013.

Last year’s delayed butterfly emergence was due to the coldest start to spring for half a century, so the mild weather experienced this year has seen more typical emergence dates, said Richard Fox, the charity’s surveys manager.

“Over the longer term, many butterfly species have shifted their emergence to earlier in the year in response to climate change.

“Our first encounter with a butterfly each year is a special moment, but these sightings are also important indicators of how wildlife is responding to changes in the environment.”