Butterflies facing extinction in Scotland: Time to start being a nation of nature lovers – Scotsman comment

We are, it is often said, supposedly a nation of animal lovers.

However, it’s probably fair to say that many humans, regardless of their nationality, can have rather murderous feelings about many members of one particularly vast group of animals: the insects.

Spiders, wasps and cockroaches – recently found by pollsters YouGov to be our “most disliked creepy crawlies” – have good reason to fear us.

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However, there are some species – such as bumblebees, ladybirds and butterflies – that through our eyes seem beautiful, endearing or somehow otherwise appealing.

So it is all the more disappointing that even the insects that we actively like are in serious trouble.

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Scottish butterflies join conservation Red List as species face rising extinctio...

According to the charity Butterfly Conservation, more than one in three types of butterfly in Scotland are now either endangered, vulnerable to extinction, or “near-threatened”.

In a sign that global warming could be playing a part, all four northerly butterflies, adapted for cooler or damper conditions, are now classed as threatened, although changes in land use are believed to be the main problem.

The grayling butterfly, among 37 species assessed in Scotland, is now classified as endangered (Picture: Iain H Leach)

In recent years, the importance of insects to a healthy ecosystem has become increasingly appreciated by the general population. The reputation of wasps in particular has been rehabilitated considerably by a growing recognition of their place in the chain of life, which really should take precedence over the occasional sting.

Perhaps, rather than a nation of animal lovers, it is time for us to become something different – a nation of nature lovers who recognise the value of the life around us, whether we actually like it or not.


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