76% of butterflies have declined in abundance

2021 saw the lowest ever number of butterflies recorded.

According to the Butterfly Conservation’s annual Big Butterfly Count, the overall number of butterflies was at the lowest level since the count began 12 years ago. 

Over 150,000 counts were registered, representing more than 38,000 hours of butterfly counting. 

Dr Zoë Randle, senior surveys officer at Butterfly Conservation said: ‘On average people counted nine butterflies or moths per count, which is down from 11 in 2020, and down again from 16 in 2019. More counts are undertaken and submitted year on year, but it seems that there are fewer butterflies and moths around to be counted.’

According to the charity, this year’s weather has had a significant impact on butterfly and moth species.

Dr Randle explained: ‘March 2021 was warmer than average which would have stimulated butterfly activity. However, May was very wet which will have hampered butterfly feeding and breeding. These combined weather effects are likely to have reduced the spring generation which has knock-on effects for the second generation in the summer.’

butterflies and moths are important indicators of the health of the environment, and therefore a decline in abundance is a case for concern. 

Butterfly Conservation has launched a new strategy to help to address these problems. 

Julie Williams, CEO of Butterfly Conservation, says: ‘Since 1976, 76% of butterflies have declined in abundance or distribution, and the downward trend continues. We have come to accept that encounters with butterflies, moths and other wildlife are unusual, delightful but infrequent.

‘It doesn’t have to be this way and through our new strategy Butterfly Conservation is pledging to halve the number of threatened butterfly and moth species in the UK, double our impact on landscape restoration, and galvanise thousands of people to create new wild spaces for nature.

‘We can’t do this alone though and are urging people to join us to create a world where butterflies and moths thrive and can be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.’

To find out more visit www.butterfly-conservation.org

Photo by Justin DoCanto