Early Start For Rare Spring Butterflies
by Butterfly Conservation
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Many of the UK's rare spring butterflies have emerged three weeks earlier than last year and a week earlier than average as a result of the recent mild weather, Butterfly Conservation has revealed.
One of the UK's rarest species - the Lulworth Skipper - emerged on May 21st, more than a month earlier than last year when it first appeared on July 1st.
The threatened Glanville Fritillary emerged on April 29th, four weeks earlier than in 2013, while the Duke of Burgundy was first seen on April 9th, three weeks earlier than last year.
The rare Wood White emerged three weeks early and the Dingy and Grizzled Skippers both appeared almost a month earlier than in 2013.
Last year's delayed butterfly emergence was due to the coldest start to spring for half a century so the mild weather experienced this year has seen more typical emergence dates this year.
But, many species have still emerged about a week earlier compared with the 10-year mean for 2002-2011.
The Small Blue and the Wall both emerged around two weeks earlier than the 10-year average while the Holly Blue and the Green-veined White emerged around a week earlier than normal.
Butterflies hibernating over the winter such as the Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock have also been seen in large numbers this year after butterflies bounced back in the warm summer of 2013.
Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager, Richard Fox explains: "Over the longer term, many butterfly species have shifted their emergence to earlier in the year in response to climate change."
He's now asking the public to submit their sightings this spring and summer, so the wildlife charity can continue to monitor the situation.
"Our first encounter with a favourite butterfly species each year is a special moment to treasure, but these sightings are also important indicators of how our native wildlife is responding to changes in the environment."
Butterfly Conservation has just launched the free iRecord Butterflies app, which allows users to submit their butterfly sightings and photos to form part of Butterfly Conservation's long-running national recording scheme. The results will then be used by scientists to determine how species are faring.
More than 4,000 sightings of 29 different butterfly species have already been logged through the new app since it was launched in April.
The iRecord Butterflies app is available for iPhone from iTunes and for android devices via the Google Play Store
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Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to halting the rapid decline of butterflies and moths and protecting our environment. We run conservation programmes for more than 100 threatened species and manage over 30 nature reserves. www.butterfly-conservation.org
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