Butterflies have long been among the prettiest visitors to the British garden, feeding on buddleia and other nectar-rich plants, providing movement, colour and interest for all, as well as being beneficial pollinators.
But the terrible summers of the last two years and the cold, wet weather in late spring and early summer have all contributed to a reduction in numbers, according to the charity Butterfly Conservation, the world’s largest research institute for butterflies and moths.
“This spring could have been catastrophic for butterflies, because it means we will have had three really bad breeding seasons in a row,” says Dr Martin Warren, the charity’s chief executive.
“We have evidence that even common butterflies such as the small tortoiseshell are getting much rarer. Almost three-quarters of UK butterfly species have decreased in population during the last decade. Last year we saw a quarter less butterflies than in the previous year.”
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