Watching butterflies flutter around our flowerbeds is one of the quintessential sights of summer, but there is new evidence that many of our garden favourites, including the Red Admiral and Holly Blue, are in sharp decline.
The Big Butterfly Count 2012 has revealed that 11 common types have decreased by more than a third compared with last year, as a result of the wettest summer in 100 years. Heavy rain, strong winds and low temperatures have sadly taken their toll, putting many already threatened species at risk.
Speckled Wood dropped substantially by 65%, Brimstone by 53% and Common Blues by 50%. The Red Admiral, which was abundant last summer, fell sharply, with numbers down by 72%. The Holly Blue (42% down) and common whites (each down by at least 33%) have also suffered.
Some butterfly species have increased, with Meadow Brown counts up by 186% to become Britain’s most abundant species. The study, run annually by Butterfly Conservation, is the biggest of its kind in the world.