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‘Mixed picture’ for butterflies in Britain last year, experts say

There was a “mixed picture” for the country’s butterflies last year, experts say.

Checkered Skipper, Brimstone and Large Blue all recorded their best year since the UK butterfly monitoring program began in 1976.

But Small Tortoiseshell had its worst year on record in England.

Dr. Richard Fox, scientific director of Butterfly Conservation, said: “Butterfly numbers fluctuate naturally from year to year, mainly due to weather, but long-term trends in British butterflies are mainly driven by human activities, including habitat degradation and destruction , definitely.” , pesticide use, environmental pollution and climate change.

“By monitoring long-term butterfly trends, we can learn more about the impacts of climate change and other factors on our native wildlife.”

Half of the 58 species had an above-average year at the monitored sites, while the other half had a below-average year.

Another species to record its best year ever was the Red Admiral, a migratory bird species that has started overwintering in the UK as the climate warms, making it a frequent visitor to all habitats, including gardens.

Since 1976, its number of monitored locations has increased by 318%.

Dr. Marc Botham, butterfly ecologist at the UK Center for Ecology & Hydrology, added: “Butterflies are an indicator species, meaning they can tell us about the state of the wider environment, which is what UKBMS data helps in assessing the state of our landscape “invaluable value.” and nature in general.

“The mixed results this year underscore the need for continued monitoring and conservation efforts to protect these important species and their habitats.”

Other species that had a notable year include Brown Argus, Marbled White, Comma, Black Hairstreak and Holly Blue, all of which were among the top three vintages since 1976.

On the other hand, Cryptic Wood White, Grizzled Skipper, Pearl-Bordered Fritillary, Grayling and Scotch Argus experienced significant difficulties.

Both the bald eagle and the marigold had a bad year, possibly suffering from the lingering effects of last summer’s drought.

Dr. James Heywood, national breeding bird monitoring organizer at the British Trust for Ornithology, whose volunteers contribute to the UKBMS, commented: “In 2023, thousands of qualified volunteers monitored a record 3,316 sites across the UK, collecting valuable data that will help make conservation decisions for to meet the future. We are incredibly grateful to every single person who provides surveillance and helps us sustain this extremely valuable study.”

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