Butterflies in decline

butterfly.jpgBBC Science News reports that there are now only 56 species of butterfly in the UK, with big losses in the intensive agricultural areas of south and east England. The article is a little misleading as it doesn’t state how many species there were to start with. The Butterfly Conservation website tells us that there were 59. So that may not sound too bad – but nationwide, 5 species have gone extinct in the past 150 years and certain counties have lost up to 17 species.
Butterflies, like amphibians, are regarded as ecological indicators. Personal recollection might not be scientific or reliable, but I have a vivid memory of seeing fewer and fewer butterflies each year in Cumbria, my home county, between early childhood and late teen years. If you live in the UK, go visit Butterfly Conservation, it’s an informative and useful website.

Photo of the peacock butterfly © Robert Thompson