Early rise for area’s rare butterflies

Many rare butterflies are emerging three weeks earlier then last year because of recent mild weather, says charity Butterfly Conservation.

Locally, the Small Copper was spotted on May 6 compared with May 26 in 2013. Others locally, such as the conservation priority species, the Small Blue and the more common, Speckled Wood, emerged two weeks earlier than the 10-year average.

The charity’s Barry Pratersaid: “The current mixed weather conditions are not particularly bad news.

“There is plenty of sun and then it’s warm, and during heavy rain butterflies are skilled at finding shelter. I’m not worried early emergences will have an adverse impact.

“Early and late emergences of butterflies are within their normal range of appearance and if they cannot cope with these fluctuations they would all be extinct by now.

“There are always ups and downs each year for wildlife. Our butterflies and moths respond to these short-term changes and can suffer or thrive depending on the seasonal timing of weather conditions. The numbers of adult, flying butterflies which we see during their flight season will depend on many factors – how strong the population was last year and how the earlier stages (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis) have fared since then.”

Butterflies hibernating over the winter have also been seen in large numbers already thanks to last year’s warm summer. The charity puts last year’s delayed butterfly emergence down to the coldest early spring for 50 years.