STATISTICS in butterflies have dropped considerably despite the UK having a warm summer that tends to help them thrive.
Common butterflies saw their numbers drop resulting in their worst numbers since the big butterfly count.
More common species such as the Gatekeeper, Comma and small Copper experienced their worst summer yet. The numbers decreased by 40%, 46% and 30% compared to the year of 2015.
The biggest decline happened in the poor summer conditions of 2012 yet 2016 figures are even lower.
Reasons why the figures have fell despite the warm wreathing conditions remain unclear.
There have been mixed opinions to why it might be; Liam Creedon Head of Butterfly Magazine said: ‘It will take some time for scientists to determine just why common butterflies had such a poor summer.’
Wildlife photographer Luke Szymanowski suggested that it may be climate, saying:
“The statistics have come as a surprise because we had quite a hot summer so theoretically the butterflies shouldn’t have been affected at all if anything they should have been flourishing.”
He added: “When you start to look at maybe the winter we had last year, we had a mild winter, we had a very cold spring before a hot summer and what that effectively means is that the caterpillars may have emerged in the early winter and they would of emerged when there was no food available.
“They emerged at a time when the temperature was fluctuating that they just simply would not have been able to survive.”
The big butterfly takes place every year, over 36,000 participated in this year’s count.
Liam Creedon commented saying: “Butterflies are beautiful, fascinating insects that have fascinated us for hundreds of years. Watching them lifts the spirits and makes us engage with some of our most beautiful areas of countryside.”
With the butterflies being such a popular species it is no doubt that the decrease has been noticeable.
Phillip James Head of Ecology said: “I know I noticed this summer that there was fewer butterflies in my garden and many people I was coming across were commenting on a secrecy of butterflies this year.”
Photographer Luke also noticed the decline:
“I was out this summer photographing butterflies and even just in my little small portion of the corridor along the River Irwell I noticed that there was barely any compared to last year.”
The big butterfly count sponsored by Waitrose and John Lewis would like to find ways how to protect the species in the future.
Although it is not unpreventable Luke Szymanowski suggests ways the public can help:
“Individuals can make a big difference and every household can plant friendly pollinating habitat in the garden really quite easily.
“The important thing is the idea of unity, people coming together with gardens back to back creating a corridor and butterflies can start navigating through these corridors.”
With the public’s help it is in hope that 2017 will bring a substantial rise in numbers.