Rare UK butterflies make a comeback

Record-breaking spring 2011 temperatures have increased some butterfly numbers

23rd April 2012

Last year’s dry spring has provided perfect conditions for certain butterfly species to thrive, a study suggests.

The study, conducted by The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and charity Butterfly Conservation was based on assessments of over 1,000 UK butterfly habitat sites.

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly, listed as threatened in the UK, did particularly well, increasing in numbers by 65 percent.

The numbers of grizzled skipper rose by 96 percent and the pearl-bordered fritillary population leapt by 103 percent.

However, the much colder summer weather in 2011 proved detrimental to the population growth of more familiar garden species – including the peacock, small tortoiseshell and common blue.

Marc Botham from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology told the BBC that it was "important to look beyond the short term boost that last year's weather provided".

He pointed out that targeted conservation needed to be in place in order to resurrect the populations of more butterfly species.

Dr Tom Brereton, head of monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, said to the BBC that, "We have 58 species in Britain and about 30 of them are restricted to semi-natural habitats.”

Future conservation efforts must focus on preserving the semi-natural habitats in the UK in order to encourage more butterflies to thrive – these include ancient woodlands, heathland, sand dunes and marshland.
 

Subscribe to BBC Countryfile Magazine today!

Choose a subscription offer to suit you and benefit from generous savings on the shop price, free UK delivery and discounts off special editions and back issues.

Countryfile Magazine - Current Issue