Wet 2012 'catastrophic' for UK butterflies

March 26, 2013
Butterflies sit on a leaf during a photocall to promote the "Sensational Butterflies" exhibition at the Natural History Museum in central London, on March 25, 2013. Britain's butterflies suffered a "catastrophic" year in 2012 with almost all species declining as a result of torrential rains, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Britain's butterflies suffered a "catastrophic" year in 2012 with almost all species declining as a result of torrential rains, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Of the 56 studied by the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, 52 saw a drop in numbers as Britain's second-wettest year on record left the colourful insects struggling to find food, shelter and mates.

Several British species are close to and the study warned that the could wipe them out in parts of the country.

"Many of our most threatened butterflies were already in a state of long-term decline prior to the 2012 deluge," said the Centre for Ecology and , which runs the monitoring scheme with the charity Butterfly Conservation.

"There are now real fears that these already struggling species could become extinct in some parts of the UK as a result of last year's wet weather."

The critically endangered high brown fritillary, which has orange wings with dark spots, saw its population shrink by 46 percent over the year, while numbers of the endangered heath fritillary fell by a half.

The black hairstreak, one of Britain's rarest butterfly species, suffered a 98 percent drop in numbers.

For 13 species, 2012 was the worst year since the monitoring scheme began in 1976.

Common species also suffered, with numbers of the brown argus plummeting by 73 percent and the common blue, loved for its bright lilac colour, dropping 60 percent.

"2012 was a catastrophic year for almost all of our , halting progress made through our in recent years," said Tom Brereton, head of monitoring at Butterfly Conservation.

"With numbers in almost three-quarters of UK species at a historically low ebb any tangible recovery will be more difficult than ever."

But the wet weather was a bonus for the few species that favour the damp, with four species enjoying rising numbers in 2012, according to the study.

Numbers of the scotch argus rose by 55 percent, while the grass-feeding meadow brown saw its numbers swell by 21 percent.

The data was collected by thousands of butterfly-loving volunteers who braved the downpours to monitor the insects at more than 1,000 sites across Britain throughout the summer.

Swathes of Britain were hit by flooding in 2012. At least three people died in floods in southwest England and Wales in November, while caused widespread disruption to the road and rail network in the run-up to Christmas.

Explore further: British butterflies need summer boost

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2.2 / 5 (5) Mar 26, 2013
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 26, 2013
Beginning of the Younger Dryas musta been a humdinger for the poor butterfly; southern coast of England went from deciduous forest to tundra in less than 100 years (and perhaps as little as 10-20 years).

You have to wonder how insects have survived for 400 million years after all this "Climate Change".
2 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2013

I think someone has severe hallucination issues. I remember 2012 very well. There were massive droughts. Now we have a study here saying it was flooding.

Can't be both, and unless the anonymous scorer is suggesting 3 seperate news organisations have collaborated into lying about a drought, you are seriously deluded.

I have presented evidence 2012 UK was in drought. If you're going to score me 1/5 at least show me how I am wrong, or debunk the drought statements, otherwise you're just being a troll.
3 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2013
2012 was the second wettest year ever in the U.K.


1 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2013
The problem djr, is that triple can't understand (because he can't imagine anythng beyond the view from his own window) how there can be severe drought in Britain while at the same time there can be severe flooding.

He could figure it out, if he would take the time to look.

But he won't, because he has already decided what he wants to believe. The very definition of "willful ignorance".
1 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2013
Oh no not the Butterflies... not da Butterflies, will someone please get them brollies.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2013
Oh no not the Butterflies... not da Butterflies, will someone please get them brollies.

I KNOW! All dem FLUTTERBYES all bein WET and get'en KILT from dem GORE LOVING SCIENTISTS all KILTING dem an stuff! Dem EVIL scientist all HID'EN dem UMBRELLAS an let'en em all DIE an get WET an all dat! You GO gurl!!

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