Butterflies

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2012 was a terrible year for butterflies according to Butterfly Conservation – and they would know!

Almost every species had a bad year with many having year-on-year declines of well over 50%.  You can see why George Osborne might be sceptical about using natural capital in national accounts if a bit of grotty weather can slash the value of your butterflies in half.

Still, we all think that insects bounce up and down in numbers and a decline this year may well be followed by a year of soaring success next year.  Well, it might but Butterfly Conservation have already shown that many species are in long-term decline (despite some of them increasing northwards in range) even if it is a bouncy downhill ride.

So far this year I have only seen brimstone (very late), small tortoiseshells (more than usual but far fewer than in the old days) and peacocks.  An orange tip was spotted in the garden but not by me.

Let’s hope the next few weeks are great butterfly weeks.

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7 Replies to “Butterflies”

  1. I have only seen one peacock and one small tortoiseshell up to now. I have seen both garlic mustard and cuckoo flower come out in the last couple of days so orange tips should not be long.

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  2. Brimstones, a pair of peacocks, a solitary large white. Bumblebees at last, and long-noses on dandelions. Mrs C awaits the annual coming of the cluster flies.

    The run of dismal summers might have something to do with it, as there is no shortage of butterfly food plants here. But the weary wetness may have caused the explosion of primroses and violets in the ash and hazel copses - and in my garden. I didn't plant them!

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  3. Butterflies seem slow to show themselves here, due no doubt to the weather and the slowing down of flowering. However, I did see a brimstone in my garden a couple of weeks ago. This is a first for my garden as far as I know. Only other species seen by me are peacocks, the first in January. Holly blues should be here by now.

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  4. Surely it can't be a coincidence that butterfly populations have declined as populations of blue and great tits have increased. I am therefore considering setting up a group called 'Save our Butterflies' and campaigning for the legal control of tits behind a thin veneer of concern for Lepidoptera. I reckon Owen Paterson might support me.

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    1. Marvellous idea.

      Should you find yourself short of a trustee, then I'd be more than happy to raise my grizzled old bonce above the parapet. You would also be well advised to run this idea past dear old Magnus, as it's definitely his field.

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    2. Rob - yes those tits are lovely, but you've got to maintain the balance of nature by killing them. Any sane countryman will tell you that.

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