Saved by Summer; Good Weather Guarantees a Sunny Outlook for Butterflies

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim McBeth

THE hottest summer in years has dragged butterflies back from the brink. After decades of decline due to poor breeding seasons, they have made a spectacular comeback, increasing in numbers by up to 700 per cent.

Conservationists had feared for the future of Scotland's 19 species, particularly those rare specimens threatened with extinction after the 'wash-out' of 2012, the worst year on record for butterfly numbers.

But this year's super summer has saved them, according to national surveys from Butterfly Conservation Scotland (BCS) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). They found that, on average, the butterfly population was up by 66 per cent nationwide, with even the rarest, such as the chequered skipper, increasing its numbers.

Of the 19 species in Scotland, 14 showed a dramatic increase - with 11 at least doubling in number.

Large and small whites rose by 200 per cent and there was an increase of 300 per cent in small tortoiseshells, which had been in serious decline in recent years.

There was even better news for the peacock, with the distinctive 'eye pattern' on its wings. Its numbers were up by a remarkable 700 per cent.

BCS director Paul Kirkland, said: 'It's a real comeback for them all, with reports of two-thirds more butterflies. It's great news. There are more species and greater numbers. It's a fantastic result which was long overdue because of the poor summers we have experienced in recent years.

'We had certainly been worried, particularly for the rarer species.' Butterflies have rallied to such a degree it is probable they will return in even greater numbers next summer.

BCS species conservation officer Tom Prescott said: 'The last two summers in particular have been dire. …