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Best summer in 20 years for butterflies

A survey carried out by British charity Butterfly Conservation has revealed that the unusually warm and wet summer last year provided a welcome boost to butterfly populations.

Of the butterfly species surveyed over half recorded greater numbers, with 2019 becoming one of the best years since records began 44 years ago.

Butterflies benefiting from the warmer conditions included the Marbled White (pictured) up by 66%, Ringlet up by 23%, Dark Green Fritillary up 51%, and Meadow Brown up 38%.  The rare Lulworth Skipper, found on the Dorset coast only and whose numbers have consistently fallen in recent years, recovered by a whopping 138% last year.

Painted Lady (Butterfly Conservation)

2019 was also an excellent year for migrant butterflies with Red Admiral annual numbers up by 195% and Painted Lady numbers rising by a massive 1993%, making this their third-best year ever.

The warmer than average spring weather also helped earlier flying species, with the Chequered Skipper up by 175%, Orange-tip, up 63%, and Brimstone, up 32%, with all enjoying their best year on record. The threatened Duke of Burgundy bounced back to record its 8th best year, assisted also by targeted conservation efforts.

Orange-tip butterfly (Butterfly Conservation)

Professor Tom Brereton, Associate Director of Monitoring and Research at Butterfly Conservation said: “The results from the 2019 season are really encouraging and provide evidence that the overall rate of decline of butterflies is slowing and for some species being reversed. Reasons for this include positive conservation through agri-environment schemes, increased woodland cover, climate warming, increases in grazing levels by wild animals and a slowing in the rate of agricultural intensification.

 “We’re really heartened to see a shift in the fortunes of many of our most-loved species. Encouragingly a number of Priority Species such as Adonis Blue, Brown Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper, Large Heath, Marsh Fritillary, Silver-studded Blue, Small Blue and the Silver-spotted Skipper that have been the focus of intensive conservation efforts in recent decades by Butterfly Conservation and partners are no longer in long-term population decline.”

Adonis blue (Butterfly Conservation)

Visit Butterfly Conservation for further information where you will also find fun activity sheets to download plus free creative learning activities for the whole family


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