The UK recorded its lowest number of butterflies in an annual insect survey, prompting conservationists to warn nature is in crisis.
Butterfly Conservation, which counted butterflies and moths between July 16 and August 8, said the results, released Thursday, were the lowest numbers since large butterfly counts began 12 years ago and called for urgent action to be taken.
C is the last warning sign for butterflies -which, thus as an integral part of the food chain, are considered to be significant indicators of the health of the environment - after decades of decline. Since 1976, 76% of butterflies have declined in abundance or distribution.
Julie Williams, executive director of the charity, said: "The facts are clear. Nature is in crisis and we need urgent action, not only to prevent further loss of species, but to rebuild biodiversity. the most submissive to date, volunteers counted an average of nine butterflies or moths each, compared to an average of 11 last year and 16 in 2019.
Overall, there were 1,238,405 butterflies and moths counted - a reduction of 14% from last year. Investigationis performed by volunteers who count the number and type of butterflies or moths they see in 15 minutes.
Among species with counts Significantly reduced were the little tortoiseshell, which has fallen 32% and is in long-term decline in the UK, and the peacock butterfly, which was 63% down from last year and had its lowest since 2012. Others that saw marked declines from last year were comma (-32%), speckled wood (-41%) and common blue (-59% ).
There was a higher number of curls and mottled blanks in this year's tally, which increased by 81% and 213% respectively. year after year. But, the charity warned, the increases may simply reflect the drop in accounts from last year.
Zoë Randle, chief investigators at Butterfly Conservation said an extremely humid May, which brought the fourth highest precipitation recorded for the month, was a major factor in the number of butterflies, hampering their reproduction and feeding.
"Butterflies do not like rain at all, they are cold-blooded insects. In fact, they run on solar energy", a- she said.
This was particularly bad for species that produce two broods per year, most of which had their worst year in history. investigation. "This first brood would have been really hammered by this May wet . Breeding success would therefore have been limited, which resulted inîn a decrease in the number of offspring available to create the second generation, "said Randle, adding that this would have a ripple effect on the number for next year.
And with extreme weather events set to increase due to climate degradation, there are concerns that the long-term impact on butterflies and moths could be devastating.
Butterfly Conservation is committed to halving the number of endangered species in the UK, doubling its impact on landscape restoration and encouraging people to create new spaces natural wilderness.
If no action was taken to protect them, Randle said, it would lead to "cont induced environmental degradation and of the natural world ".
In addition to the unusual weather conditions, Brian Eversham, entomologist and general managerfrom Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust, said the insects face many pressures, including habitat loss, pollution of waterways and the 'dangerous use of pesticides.
But, he added: "While these findings are disturbing, we should not underestimate the capacity of the nature to recover if given the chance. We can all help by creating more habitat for wildlife. "
Top 10 species recorded in the United Kingdom in the Big Butterfly Count 2021
1. Petit Blanc (252,151 counted; -5% on 2020)
2. Grand Blanc (229 218; -16%)
3. Meadow Brown (197,060; + 33%)
4. Gatekeeper (133,726; -30%)
5. Red admiral (75 394; -10%)
6. Ringlet (63 311; + 81%)
7. Peacock (61 668; -63%)
8. Small tortoiseshell (38 543; -32%)
9. Marbled white (28 704; + 213%)
10. White veined with green (27 784; -9%)