Last year, the news on butterflies was all doom and gloom as rain washed them out. However, four times as many have been recorded in the 2013 Big Butterfly Count. Numbers of large and small whites are up by more than 300%, but the most promising signs are for small tortoiseshells (up by 388%) and peacocks (more than 3,500%). Migrants from the Continent increased, too, such as clouded yellow, painted lady and the silver Y moth, and the rare long-tailed blue was spotted along the south coast.
There was some bad news, however: ringlet and marbled whites, both of which did well last year, fell by more than 50%. Meadow browns and six-spot Burnet moths fell too. ‘This reminds us that butterflies are resilient,’ comments Butterfly Conservation’s Richard Fox. ‘The problem facing UK butterflies is not the notoriously variable weather, but the way that humans manage the landscape.’
A record 46,000 people took part in the count, spotting more than 830,000 butterflies and moths. The top 10 species were: small white (154,438 seen), large white (136,944), peacock (130,796), meadow brown (88,547), gatekeeper (76,935), small tortoiseshell (49,418), green-veined white (38,988), ringlet (31,206), six-spot Burnet (18,681) and comma (17,230).
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