Butterflies on a wing and a prayer as cold wet weather threatens numbers
Butterflies could suffer population crashes as a result of the record-breaking wet weather this spring and summer, Sir David Attenborough has warned.
Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation is launching its annual survey of the insects amid concerns that the wettest April to June on record will have hit their breeding season.
Prolonged cold, wet weather delays the butterflies emerging, reduces their life-span and hampers mating and egg-laying, Butterfly Conservation said.
This year’s wet weather could lead to a repeat of 2007, when the UK was hit by widespread flooding following torrential rain, causing butterfly numbers to plummet. The charity is urging the public to take part in the Big Butterfly Count to help assess the impact the rainy weather has had.
Sir David, who is president of Butterfly Conservation, said: “The wet weather this spring and early summer has made life really hard for our butterflies and things could get worse unless conditions improve.
“Our butterflies were already struggling. Almost three-quarters of UK species have decreased in numbers during the last ten years.
“These falls are worrying because butterflies are important indicator species for our environment.”
Last year, the public counted more than 320,000 butterflies. The number of individual butterflies seen was down by 11 per cent compared with the previous year.
This year, Butterfly Conservation is particularly keen to see what is happening to garden favourite the small tortoiseshell after research revealed numbers had fallen.
The Big Butterfly Count is taking place in partnership with Marks & Spencer.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east