Tough year for butterflies

The wet summer has been catastrophic for several butterfly species after rain killed off caterpillars and thwarted mating. According to a Butterfly Conservation survey, the red admiral is down by 72%, the speckled wood by 65% and the common blue by 50%; all white butterflies declined, as did the holly blue and brimstone. Peacocks fell by 89%, but did show a late emergence in the recent better weather.

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Some species, however, appreciated the lush growth of grass and wildflowers; the meadow brown rose by 186% and was the most frequently seen species in July and August’s Big Butterfly Count, by more than 25,000 people. The ringlet was up by 354%, as was the marbled white, by an astonishing 503%. The top 10 butterflies spotted were meadow brown (63,370 seen), gatekeeper (32,432), ringlet (31,437), small white (18,122), large white (15,240), six-spot burnet (11,728), marbled white (10.218), green-veined white (5,996), large skipper (5,165) and small tortoiseshell (4,900).

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