Several successive summers of poor weather in the UK took their toll on butterflies and moths. The results of The Big Butterfly Count in 2012 showed that it had been the worst year on record for population numbers.
This year however fortunes changed thanks to a prolonged spell of warm and sunny weather which covered much of the country over the summer. This led to a surge in butterfly numbers across the nation’s gardens and parks. On average there were almost twice the number of individual butterflies counted compared with the 2012 results.
Whites were the most prolific this year with both Small White (154,438 seen) and Large White (136,944 seen) coming in at first and second respectively on the results table. Here at the Blackwood gardens we spotted 22 different Whites during our count one lunch time.
The Peacock butterfly (130,796 seen) came in at third most spotted, which was a massive 3,500% improvement on their 2012 numbers! Another notable statistic was the Small Tortoiseshell (49,418 seen) which had its best ever performance at sixth – up 388% compared with 2012.
It was not good new across the species however. Some that did well last year such as the Meadow Brown (88,547 seen) and Six-spot Burnet moth (18,681 seen) were down on last year’s results. Ringlet and Marbled White numbers actually fell by over 50%.
Speaking on the butterfly-conservation.org website, Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager Richard Fox said: “It has been a truly memorable summer for butterflies, a wonderful spectacle for the many thousands of people who’ve helped with the Big Butterfly Count and a lifeline to the UK’s hard pressed butterfly populations.
“It reminds us that butterflies are resilient and will thrive given good weather and suitable habitats. The problem facing UK butterflies is not the notoriously variable weather but the way that humans manage the landscape.
“The record-breaking support for this year’s Big Butterfly Count shows the public is concerned about wildlife and willing to do something to help stem their long-term declines.