Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire News

All the latest news from your local branch of Butterfly Conservation plus highlights from around the UK and beyond.



Holy Grail of moth recording reappears in Britain

Numerous recent sightings of a moth that became extinct in the UK in the 1960s, suggest that it has recolonised and is now breeding across southern Britain.

2019-09-26 Butterfly Conservation Press Office news; moth; mothnight; moth night;

Numerous recent sightings of a moth that became extinct in the UK in the 1960s, suggest that it has recolonised and is now breeding across southern Britain.

The Clifden Nonpareil, whose name means 'beyond compare', is one of the largest and most spectacular moths native to our shores.

With a wingspan that can reach almost 12cm and a bright blue stripe across its black hindwings (which gives rise to an alternative name of the Blue Underwing), this species has long been regarded as a holy grail among moth enthusiasts.

Immigrant moths from continental Europe appear to have re-established breeding colonies of this impressive insect in recent years, in south coast counties of England.

People are being asked to look for this moth and record any sightings as part of the annual Moth Night, an event run every year by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. This year the event celebrates its 20th anniversary.

As part of this coming Moth Night on 26-28 September 2019 dedicated moth recorders and members of the public are being asked to survey moths and to submit their sightings via the website. Public events are also being held across the country to raise awareness of the importance and beauty of moths.

Moth Night founder and editor of Atropos, Mark Tunmore, said: "September is a special time for studying moths in the British Isles with a colourful range of resident species mixing with more exotic species from Europe or even North Africa as warm air currents sweep them northwards. Already this year we have received reports to our migrant insect news service, Flight Arrivals, of Clifden Nonpareil sightings from Cornwall, Devon, Sussex, Warwickshire, Suffolk, Dorset, Kent, Norfolk, Somerset and Northamptonshire.

"Some of these are likely to be immigrants and some part of the recently established resident populations. When we started Moth Night 20 years ago this moth was a very rare immigrant but it is now becoming familiar to moth enthusiasts across southern Britain. This illustrates just how quickly change can take place and that's why moths are such a fascinating group of insects to study.

"Coming at the peak of the Clifden Nonpareil season, Moth Night 2019 is a fantastic opportunity to map the current range of this species in Britain."

Another exciting migrant species being recorded this autumn is the Convolvulus Hawk-moth. This species has an unusually long proboscis (tongue) which allows it to feed on tubular flowers like tobacco plants. Participants in Moth Night are being asked to be on the lookout for both the Convolvulus Hawk-moth and the Clifden Nonpareil in order to help scientists learn more about their increasing numbers in the UK.

Richard Fox, Associate Director of Recording and Research at Butterfly Conservation said: "Moth Night is a wonderful opportunity to get face-to-face with the UK's magnificent moths including, if you are really lucky, the Clifden Nonpareil, and to contribute important data.

"Moth Night is running from 26-28 September this year and we really want to hear from anyone who has seen a Clifden Nonpareil, Convolvulus Hawk-moth or encountered any exciting migrant moths or even recorded some of the spectacular local species that fly on autumn nights.

"The Clifden Nonpareil is a fantastic addition to our wildlife, and it is great to know that it is resident again in the UK, after an absence of 40 years or so. Its caterpillars feed unnoticed up in the canopies of Aspen and poplar trees, so the adult moths are the best indication of how widely-established this species now is.

"This year, the Clifden Nonpareil is turning up all over southern Britain, in the Midlands, East Anglia and Wales, in Ceredigion and Monmouthshire, as well as in south coast counties. There's never been a better chance of a thrilling encounter with this impressive insect."

Dr Marc Botham, an ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: "Moth Night provides the perfect opportunity for people of all experiences to go out and record moths, with some fantastic species to look out for. Many moths are benefiting from climate change, being able to withstand the increasingly milder weather in particular over the winter months.

"Records collected on Moth Night will help contribute to our fantastic wealth of data on moths and other insect groups and help us to see how climate change and other drivers are affecting their populations in the UK."

Experts would love to hear of any moth sightings, so please submit these to www.mothnight.info and keep an eye on where the Clifden Nonpareils have been spotted so far at www.atropos.info/flightarrivals

People can also read more about the fascinating history of the Clifden Nonpareil in the recently published issue of Atropos - see www.atropos.info/magazine for details.

Events can be found at www.mothnight.info

Notes
Moth Night is normally held in the warmest months of the year; each event lasts for three consecutive nights (Thursday to Saturday) and takes place on different date periods every year.

You can participate on any one or more of these nights.

Moth Night 2019 is organised by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, with the aim of encouraging recording and raising the profile of moths amongst the public. The annual event was founded by Atropos in 1999.

For information about public events, prizes and to submit sightings visit www.mothnight.info

Atropos is the popular UK journal for butterfly, moth and dragonfly enthusiasts, catering for amateur and professional interests. www.atropos.info Up to the minute information about latest sightings of migrant insects around the British Isles may be found on the Flight Arrivals pages of this website.

Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. Our research provides advice on how to conserve and restore habitats. We run programmes for more than 100 threatened species and we are involved in conserving hundreds of sites and reserves. www.butterfly-conservation.org @savebutterflies

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) www.ceh.ac.uk is the UK's Centre of Excellence for integrated research in the land and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere, and part of the Natural Environment Research Council. CEH employs more than 450 people at four major sites in England, Scotland and Wales, hosts over 150 PhD students, and has an overall budget of about £35m. CEH tackles complex environmental challenges to deliver practicable solutions so that future generations can benefit from a rich and healthy environment. You can follow the latest developments in CEH research via @CEHScienceNews on Twitter


Find out more about the Clifden Nonpareil

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Please contact Contact the Press Office on 01929 406 005 for more information or to request an interview.

Clifden Nonpareil by Tamas Nestor

Clifden Nonpareil by Tamas Nestor

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Photo Credit: 2019 Tamas Nestor
Photo Caption: Clifden Nonpareil by Tamas Nestor


Mediterranean Blue Butterfly Invades Britain

Climate change is causing a striking butterfly from southern Europe to appear in record-breaking numbers across the south of England, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation can reveal.

2019-08-29 Katie Callaghan - Butterfly Conservation climate; long-tailed blue; migration;

More than 50 Long-tailed Blue butterflies and hundreds of the butterfly's eggs have been discovered over the last few weeks, which could result in the largest ever emergence of the butterfly in UK history.

Experts believe rising temperatures are behind the influx, with sightings of the butterfly coming in from Cornwall right across to Kent, as far north as Suffolk and even into Surrey - where the Long-tailed Blue hasn't been seen since 1990.

Typically, only a handful of these exotic migrants from the Mediterranean reach the UK each summer, but this is the third time in six years that the butterfly has arrived in vastly increased numbers and 2019 looks set to surpass the previous peaks witnessed in 2013 and 2015.

Butterfly Conservation volunteer and Long-tailed Blue expert, Neil Hulme,, said: "These butterflies have crossed the Channel and are laying eggs in gardens, allotments and anywhere you can find Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea and similar plants, which the caterpillar likes to feed on.

"We've never recorded this many migrant adults before - it's completely unprecedented. In only a few days, I've found more than 100 eggs in Sussex alone and the butterfly has been seen in Cornwall, Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Kent and Suffolk. We've even had a sighting in Glamorgan in South Wales.

"What's really exciting is that the Long-tailed Blue has gone further inland than it did in 2013 and 2015, with at least three confirmed sightings in Surrey, where the butterfly hasn't been seen for 30 years.

"The adults will keep laying eggs and in September and October we'll see the first British-born offspring emerging. I strongly believe this will take the total number seen this year to well over a hundred, breaking all previous records for this butterfly in the UK."

The Long-tailed Blue has previously been considered a very rare visitor to the UK, despite being abundant across southern Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

The butterfly was seen for the very first time in Britain in 1859, but over the next 80 years only 30 adults were recorded here. Significant influxes occurred in 1945, 1990 and most recently in 2015, but none of these equalled the invasion of 2013, when 109 sightings were recorded between July and October.

Neil added: "This is one of the world's more successful species of butterfly. It may be small, but it's a very powerful flyer, capable of crossing mountain ranges and seas.

"In hot weather it can go through its entire life cycle in just over a month, which is half the period taken by many species. The caterpillar grows up inside the flowers and pods of peas and similar plants, hidden away from predators. It has the full toolkit for world domination."

The butterfly gets its name from the wispy 'tails' on the trailing edge of each of its hindwings, which flutter in the breeze. Adjacent eye spots fool birds into thinking this is the head of the butterfly, allowing it to escape any attacks unharmed.

The male is a striking violet-blue colour, while the female is a mix of duller blue and brown. The underside of both sexes is a sandy brown colour crossed by numerous white, wavy lines.

Dr Dan Hoare from Butterfly Conservation said: "With unprecedented numbers of Long-tailed Blues and UK sightings of other rarities, like the Bedstraw Hawk-moth and Queen of Spain Fritillary butterfly, 2019 is certainly turning out to be an exciting year for immigrant species.

"The Long-tailed Blue is still a way off from becoming a resident butterfly in this country, as it can't survive our winter. However, what we're seeing this year confirms the butterfly is extending its geographical range northwards in response to climate change - so we can look forward to seeing this beautiful little butterfly more regularly.

"Our rapidly changing climate brings positives for some expanding species, while others may find it much harder to adapt and keep pace with the changes. Butterflies, moths and other insects respond quickly to environmental change, providing an indicator of the impacts of a warming climate on the natural world."

Please report any Long-tailed Blue sightings to info@butterfly-conservation.org or through the free iRecord Butterflies app.


Mediterranean Blue Butterfly Invades Britain

Media Enquiries

Please contact Contact the Press Office on 01929 406 005 for more information or to request an interview.

Long-tailed Blue

Long-tailed Blue

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Photo Credit: 2019 Neil Hulme
Photo Caption: Long-tailed Blue


Butterflies bounce back in heatwave summer

UK butterflies bounced back in 2018 following a string of poor years, thanks in part to last year’s heatwave summer, a study has revealed.

2019-04-08 Butterfly Conservation Press Office butterfly; summer; heatwave; 2018;

UK butterflies bounced back in 2018 following a string of poor years, thanks in part to last year’s heatwave summer, a study has revealed.

More than two-thirds of UK butterfly species (39 of 57) were seen in higher numbers than in 2017, with two of the UK’s rarest, the Large Blue and Black Hairstreak, recording their best years since records began.

But despite the upturn, 2018 was still only an average year for the UK’s butterflies. Around two thirds of species (36 of 57) show an apparent decline since records began 43 years ago, with 21 of these showing significant long-term declines, the annual UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) led by Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) revealed.

Numbers of the threatened Large Blue rose by 58% from 2017 levels and the endangered Black Hairstreak was up by more than 900%.

Both species benefited from warm and sunny weather when they were flying in the early summer, whilst the cold spell in February and March may have also helped by improving survival of caterpillars and chrysalises.

Brown Argus and Speckled Wood butterflies also thrived, recording their third best year on record.

Common white butterflies experienced a good year after a recent run of below-average seasons with Large White annual abundance up 118%, the Small White rising by 155% and the Green-veined White increasing by 63%, again due to warm and sunny weather from April to the end of July.

The threatened Duke of Burgundy was up 65%. This butterfly has been the subject of intensive conservation efforts in recent years from Butterfly Conservation and partners, with some of the biggest annual increases seen at conservation sites. The butterfly’s population has stabilised over the last 10 years in the face of a significant long-term decline.

The hot spring and summer weather was not ideal for all species. Some grassland butterflies struggled, not helped by drought conditions drying out caterpillar food plants. The Gatekeeper dropped by 20% from 2017 levels and the Small Skipper and Essex Skipper were down by 24% and 32% respectively.

It was also a surprisingly poor year for some garden favourites. The Small Tortoiseshell slumped by 38% compared to the previous year and the Peacock was down 25%, whilst the migratory Red Admiral crashed by 75% after a good year in 2017.

Professor Tom Brereton, Associate Director of Monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, said: “2018 brought some welcome relief for butterflies following five below average years in a row. But, there were not as many butterflies around as we might have expected given the fabulous weather over much of the butterfly season and overall 2018 ranked as barely better than average.

“This and the fact that two thirds of butterflies show negative trends over the long-term, highlights the scale of the challenge we face in restoring their fortunes and creating a healthier environment.

“It remains to be seen what the knock-on effects of the 2019 heatwave will be. We know that extreme events such as this, which are set to increase under climate change, are generally damaging to butterflies.”

Dr Marc Botham, Butterfly Ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: “The results show the positive impact that suitable weather conditions can have if there is suitable habitat in place for our butterflies to thrive.

“Thanks to ongoing habitat management, many of our threatened species can benefit from the good weather like that of summer 2018, but more still needs to be done to improve the condition of the wider countryside as a whole so other species can also take advantage. This can start in our own back gardens, by leaving areas unmown and planting native wildflower species, for example.”

Sarah Harris, Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) National Organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology, said: “It is great to see hundreds of birdwatchers taking part in the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey on BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey squares.

“By doing so, dedicated and skilled volunteers are bringing together the monitoring of multiple taxa groups at each survey site and contributing to butterfly population trends. This is a fantastic example of how partnerships should work. I encourage anyone interested to take part in the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey on either their Breeding Bird Survey squares or on Butterfly Conservation's survey squares."

Anna Robinson, Monitoring Ecologist at JNCC said: “Understanding changes in the environment is important in driving conservation action. We are grateful to the thousands of volunteers who submit records to the UKBMS, providing really valuable evidence on the state of butterflies in the UK.”

The UKBMS has run since 1976 and involves thousands of volunteers collecting data through the summer. Last year a record 2873 sites were monitored across the UK.

The scheme is organised and funded by Butterfly Conservation, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the British Trust for Ornithology and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

CONTACTS

For interviews and images contact the Butterfly Conservation Press Office on 01929 406005 news@butterfly-conservation.org

Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. Our research provides advice on how to conserve and restore habitats. We run projects to protect more than 100 threatened species and we are involved in conserving hundreds of sites and reserves. www.butterfly-conservation.org

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is the UK’s foremost independent bird research organisation and organises a range of annual and periodic surveys, mainly on birds, and including the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey. Information on population trends in birds and other wildlife are provided on our website (www.bto.org) and you can follow the latest news and developments via twitter @_BTO and @BBS_birds

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) a centre of excellence for integrated research into land and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere. CEH is a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) research institute, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The Centre’s independent, impartial science addresses major societal and environmental challenges: how to protect and enhance the environment and the benefits it provides; how to build resilience to environmental hazards; and how to manage environmental change. Its core expertise is in environmental monitoring, measuring and modelling. www.ceh.ac.uk @CEHScienceNews

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the statutory adviser to the UK Government and devolved administrations on UK and international nature conservation. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching biological diversity sustaining natural systems.


Butterflies bounce back in heatwave summer

Media Enquiries

Please contact Contact the Press Office on 01929 406 005 for more information or to request an interview.

The Speckled Wood did well in 2018, recording its third best year on record.

The Speckled Wood did well in 2018, recording its third best year on record.

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Photo Credit: 2019 Steven Cheshire
Photo Caption: The Speckled Wood did well in 2018, recording its third best year on record.


Canal adoption great for butterflies.

The branch has adopted a stretch of waterway and it's making a positive impact for butterflies and other wildlife at Fenny Compton on the Oxford Canal.

2017-12-20 Canals and Rivers Trust butterflies; canal; conservation;

By working together with local groups, the Canal and Rivers Trust is bringing our nation's canals and rivers to life in more ways than ever before. Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire has adopted a stretch of waterway - and wer'e having a positive impact for butterflies and other wildlife at Fenny Compton on the Oxford Canal.

Adopting a stretch of canal is all about making a real difference, saving wildlife, changing lives and having fun.

Mike Slater, Chair of the Warwickshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation said; "We're helping not only the butterflies but also all the other wildlife here. This has been an important butterfly site for many, many years! I'm Chairman of the Warwickshire branch of Butterfly Conservation and we've been working in partnership with Canal & River Trust for the last four years. We've got one of their Adoption schemes, so what we've done is try to restore these very rare lime-hill calcareous grasslands. We're removing a lot of the scrub that's invaded the site over years, and what's really good, we monitor the site scientifically, and the numbers now for key species have been fantastic - for example, the Grizzle Skipper, where we used to see numbers in just ones and twos, each year now we're seeing virtually 60, which actually proves the work works!

Most people here are Butterfly Conservation members, some come because they like the free logs, some are really interested in the ecology, and some basically use it as a 'green gym' to keep fit!

We meet lots of locals walking with their children, and with their dogs, and people from their narrowboats - and they're always very interested in what we're doing, especially the children, and that's fantastic, they really love it!

Where we're working today is the south-facing bank of the canal, the sun shines on it a lot, and butterflies being cold-blooded need that warmth to grow to a chrysalis as soon as they can. That bank will be very important for all these rare butterflies now found on the site thanks to the conservation work we've done. It's like a snowball going down a hill, the more you do, the more success you have, and it makes you want to do more because you know it works! And that's where I think the Canal & River Trust are fantastic, because they've got all these sites and they keep saying to me 'How do you fancy doing a bit of work over here?' And if we can, we will do!


More information on the Canal and Rivers Trust web site

Media Enquiries

Please contact Mike Slater for more information or to request an interview.

Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire has adopted a stretch of waterway - and wer'e having a positive impact for butterflies and other wildlife at Fenny Compton

Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire has adopted a stretch of waterway - and wer'e having a positive impact for butterflies and other wildlife at Fenny Compton

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Photo Caption: Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire has adopted a stretch of waterway - and wer'e having a positive impact for butterflies and other wildlife at Fenny Compton


Canal and Rivers Trust Award.

Branch wins Natural Environment category for their work to save rare butterflies at Fenny Compton Tunnels.

2016-09-16 Canals and Rivers Trust butterflies; award;

After a series of visits and assessments, which saw expert judges travel across the country, an independent panel of experts, led by Christopher Rodrigues CBE, selected its finalists for the 2016 Living Waterways Awards.

From inspirational visitor centres and vibrant theatrical performances, to innovative education projects and pioneering environmental initiatives, winners are listed under nine award categories with a team of volunteers from the Warwickshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation winning the Natural Environment category for their work to save rare butterflies at Fenny Compton Tunnels.

More information on the Canal and Rivers Trust web site

Media Enquiries

Please contact Mike Slater for more information or to request an interview.

Mike Slater, Chairman of the Warwickshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation talks about the butterflies of Fenny Compton.

Mike Slater, Chairman of the Warwickshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation talks about the butterflies of Fenny Compton.

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Photo Caption: Mike Slater, Chairman of the Warwickshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation talks about the butterflies of Fenny Compton.


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