Despite the poor conditions this summer, Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2015 attracted a record number of participants, with more than 52,000 people taking part in this year’s event. Though survey numbers were up, the results have shown a number of important declines.
This year’s Big Butterfly Count took place from the 17th of July until the 9th of August and asked people to take 15 minutes to record butterflies or moths that they spotted. As in previous year’s the event was launched by Sir David Attenborough and encouraged the public to get involved with local events, as a family in the back garden or simply during a lunch break in the park.
Results from this year’s count found that the average number of individual butterflies seen per 15minute count had dropped by 9% going from 15 in 2014 to 13 this summer. Overall, abundance was also down with particular declines in Scotland and Northern Ireland were abundance fell 37% and 41% respectively. Butterfly Conservation do note that this summer suffered significantly bad weather especially during the time of this year’s count which may have effected results, although such decline are still worrying.
However, when considering individual species this year’s results found a mixed bag with eleven species increasing from their 2014 count number, seven decreasing and two remaining roughly the same. Holly Blue butterflies were top of the increase list with a 151% gain from last year followed by Silver Y with a 93 % increase and Ringlet butterflies up 72%.
Among the most significant declining species was the Peacock, falling 61% and the Small Tortoiseshell which dropped 57% on 2014 figures. Red Admiral and Speckled Wood also saw drops from last year down by 28% and 25% respectively.
Top of the overall list this summer was Gatekeeper with the highest abundance for the second time in the last five years. Large White took the 2015 second place with Meadow Brown in the number three spot.
Further details on this year’s count including country, habitat or species specific information can be found on The Big Butterfly Count site. An interactive maps of all of this year’s survey locations and data from previous counts is also available online.
The Big Butterfly Count will return again next summer from the 15th of July until the 7th of August 2016
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