OCT 15, 2016 8:41 AM PDT

UK Scientists Are Shocked by "Record Lows" in Butterfly Count

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Butterflies love it when it’s warm and dry outside. It’s the perfect time for them to spread their wings and get to work on pollinating flowers. During warmer climates like this, common in the Summer time, butterflies are the most likely to be seen in the wild. That’s why scientists primarily use the Summer time of the year to survey them on an annual basis.
 

Butterflies are beautiful creatures, although the UK reports that they're experiencing a butterfly shortage.

 Image Credit: National Geographic

Surprisingly, scientists based out of the UK are reporting that this year’s butterfly sightings yielded a record low for the country despite the fact that the Summer there this year has been warmer and drier than the previous year.
 
The annual Big Butterfly Count, a science project driven by the country’s butterfly-loving citizens, was the source of these new claims. The results of 390,000 spotted butterflies in total are leaving scientists both baffled and confused.
 
“The drop in butterfly numbers this summer has been a shock,” said Butterfly Conservation’s Richard Fox. “When we have cold, wet summers, as in 2012, we expect butterfly populations to plummet, but that wasn’t the case this year.
 
“The summer months were warmer than usual, yet most Big Butterfly Count participants saw fewer butterflies. Perhaps the very mild winter had a negative effect, or the cold spring, or perhaps the impacts of intensive farming and pesticides are really hitting these common species now.”
 
Some butterfly species were hit harder than others in this year’s survey, however other species types are actually flourishing.
 
For example, the Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly and Peacock Butterfly both dropped in sightings over last year from 42-47%. The Peacock Butterfly’s sightings are down up to 6x from three years ago, of particular concern.
 
Other butterfly species, like the Red Admiral, are actually doing well; their numbers were recorded to be up to 70% higher over last year, while the Green-Veined White Butterfly saw an increase of about 58%.
 
Despite a number of species seeing a decline and some others seeing an incline, butterfly sightings overall are still drastically down from past surveys and there’s really no good explanation for it.
 
One theory is that the Winter and Spring were less than optimal. The Winter wasn’t very cold this past year, while the Spring failed to warm up quickly enough. These kinds of temperature changes, although minor, can have a significant impact on wildlife and their ability to survive.
 
These realities may be the result of climate change, an ongoing problem we battle today that continues to have a negative impact on all kinds of species around the world.

There's no clear indicator just yet about whether or not butterfly species will yield better numbers next year, or if this will be an ongoing problem.
 
Source: Big Butterfly Count via The Guardian

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 06, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 06, 2019
Invasive Mussels are Taking Over Australia's Coastlines
Any type of organism that is not native to a location but ends up there anyway is considered an invasive species....
DEC 13, 2019
Health & Medicine
DEC 13, 2019
Mandatory Warning Labels for California Cannabis Products, Unsafe for Mothers-to-be
As the first state to legalize medical marijuana, California is to date one of the largest cannabis markets in the United States. A nine-member panel of sc...
DEC 19, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 19, 2019
The Science Behind Christmas
The holiday season is upon us, and to wrap-up the year and get you into the holiday spirit, we are dedicating the last infographic to Christmas. After all, what's a better way to celebrate...
DEC 27, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
DEC 27, 2019
USDA Approves First State Hemp Growing Plans
Hemp can be cultivated for use as fiber, building materials, CBD oil and more. This plant and its derivatives were legalized federally under the 2018 Farm...
FEB 03, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 03, 2020
Watch a Polar Bear Mom Scare Off a Bully So Her Cubs Can Eat
Polar bears realize that food can be scarce at times, and that’s a problem considering just how much they like to eat. In many cases, they find food ...
FEB 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 10, 2020
Mudskippers Aren't Like Most Fish...
Most fish spend almost all of their lives in a body of water, be it the ocean or some smaller lake or stream. Mudskippers, on the other hand, are a unique...
Loading Comments...