This week we’re delighted to welcome a new Guest Blogger to the Nature Talks and Walks Blog – Amber Waddy, who asks the question, are butterflies in decline?
Butterflies are one of nature’s true sirens, with their eclectic collection of patterns and delicate demeanour. The trouble is that because they are so susceptible to changes in their environment it can sometimes be hard for them to keep their numbers up to par. Last year’s studies showed that there were over 200 threatened species of butterfly and moth that needed urgent rescuing. Question is, what has happened with our butterflies to date this year?
Summer of 2013 brought a lot of promise with several species growing in numbers. The Peacock in particular showed sensational progress with a staggering 3537% increase from the previous butterfly count. Despite these encouraging signs, however, there were still some breeds such as the Meadow Brown and the Marbled White that found it hard to find their footing and thus their overall count was cut by more than half. 2013 also saw a number of sightings in regard to foreign species such as the Long-Tailed Blue who were looking to colonise in the UK, though it’s too early to tell if this has been a success.
The start of 2014 saw a great and encouraging start with stable populations of butterfly including the likes of the Comma and the Brimstone thriving and even expanding their existing territories, many of them heading north bound due to the effects of climate change. While this is good news here and now worries that certain species will migrate completely to other regions of the globe are slowly becoming more of a concern. It has become much more evident that the current British environment has been increasingly unmerciful towards the local colonies of butterfly.
So, what kind of things do our wonderful butterflies like? The nectar they need to live obviously plays a huge part in keeping their number steady as many of them like a rich diet of sugars. Certain seasons tend to favour certain flowers, so with spring approaching fast it might be worth looking into growing flowers such as Forget-Me-Nots and Primroses to entice more into the area. Another thing to have in your considerations is feeding the native caterpillars as they need just as much love as their metamorphosed counterparts. Also try to avoid using any commercial pesticides as these can be quite harmful.
We can all play a part in making sure the butterflies that come and go are both welcomed and looked after. Local businesses can consult ecology experts to get a rundown of the local critters in the immediate area, while families with young children can get their hands mucky in the garden. Even something as simple as leaving out your scrap fruits and veggies can really help to encourage our majestic butterflies to stick around.
For more examples of Amber’s writing, why not check out her website.
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