It’s been a big summer for Small Tortoiseshells

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One of the region’s favourite butterflies, the Small Tortoiseshell, is continuing its fightback in Scotland after years of decline, despite a wet August, a survey this summer found.

And 2014 has been a better year for sightings locally, says Berwickshire’s Dr Barry Prater, Butterfly Conservation’s East Scotland Branch organiser.

He said: “A snapshot of how our butterflies are faring gives a mixed picture. Although the relatively poor August weather may have influenced the numbers people recorded in their counts, it does seem that 2014 has been a much better year than many for overall sightings of flying butterflies.”

The Small Tortoiseshell, whose UK population has declined by 78 per cent since the 1970s, was the most abundant Big Butterfly Count species in Scotland, with more than 3,500 spotted.

Second was the Peacock (2,707 seen), followed by the Green-veined White (2,237), the Small White (2,074), Meadow Brown (1,411), Large White (1,319), Red Admiral (1,137), Ringlet (1,072), Speckled Wood (412) and Common Blue (250).

Despite a warm July, the cool, wet August curtailed the flight period of some common species and hastened others into early hibernation, says Butterfly Conservation.

The average number of individual butterflies seen per count saw eight species increasing and 11 decreasing compared with 2013.

The big winners were the Peacock which rose 366% compared to 2013 and Red Admiral, up by 205%. But the common white butterflies were hit with the Green-veined White down 37% and the Small White by 46%.

Nearly 45,000 people took part in the count across the UK, spotting almost 560,000 butterflies during the three-week recording period.

The majority of species declined compared with 2013, but most were still well above levels recorded in 2012’s wet summer.