It is one of the greatest British wildlife success stories of the last 30 years: the rare blue butterfly has made a comeback in the UK. It is expected that this will be a record-breaking year in Somerset, following the count of over 20,000 eggs last summer.
Return of the Blue Butterflies
The beautiful blue butterflies were declared extinct in 1979. Since the project was introduced in 2000, there has been visible success on 25 sites, including the National Trust’s Collard Hill near Glastonbury, Somerset.
A survey by the National Trust found that over 800 butterflies emerged last year, an increase of 22 per cent since 2008, which had set the previous record.
Rob Holden, National Trust Area Warden, said: “The last four years at Collard Hill have seen a steady and strong increase in the number of large blue butterflies recorded.”
Holden added: “Getting the habitat in the right condition for this very particular butterfly has been crucial.” Butterflies need sunny weather as cold and rainy climate stops them from flying.
Is weather being unkind to butterflies?
There are other butterflies becoming extinct due to the changing weather patterns. It has affected other endangered butterflies, such as Duke of Burgundy and Fritilliary. Such species are on the verge of extinction due to the past three years’ rainy summers. According to Butterfly Conservation, the number of butterflies has declined by 78 per cent in 18 years.
Matthew Oates, Nature Conservation Adviser for the National Trust and leading butterfly expert, said: “Butterflies are hugely affected by weather. Their population increases and decreases accordingly. We see loads in good summers. Butterflies are one of the best indicators we have for determining climate change on the home front – true canaries in the mineshaft.”
M&S concern for Butterflies
Butterfly Conservation with Marks & Spencer has launched a campaign to save butterflies. The aim of the campaign is to create awareness about the importance of butterflies and moths.
Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, said: “Numbers have been falling, but Butterfly Conservation Scientists have demonstrated that these declines can be reversed. They have also found that when you change the environment to help butterflies thrive, all sorts of other wildlife benefits too.