Butterfly effect: rare species make comeback
Michael McCarthy, formerly the Independent’s longstanding Environment Editor, now its Environment Columnist, is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world. He has won a string of awards for his work, including Environment Journalist of the Year (three times) and Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2001. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB for “Outstanding Services to Conservation,” in 2010 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2011 the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology. In 2009 McCarthy published Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo (John Murray), a study of Britain’s declining migrant birds.
Friday 20 April 2012
Britain's butterflies encountered mixed fortunes last year, a study has revealed, with some of the rarest species being helped to recover by the record-breaking warm spring.
The hot, dry weather provided perfect conditions for spring specialists, enabling them to benefit from extended flight periods as they emerged weeks earlier than usual, according to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.
The threatened duke of Burgundy, probably Britain's most endangered butterfly, rose in numbers by 65 per cent between 2010 and 2011. Other rare spring butterflies prospered – the grizzled skipper recorded a rise of 96 per cent, the pearl-bordered fritillary rose by 103 per cent, and the Lulworth skipper, confined to a small stretch of the Dorset coast, saw an 84 per cent increase following years of decline.
However, other species struggled in the cold summer. The white admiral recorded a 51 per cent fall and the threatened black hairstreak, which recorded a substantial increase between 2009 and 2010, declined again last year.
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