Brits asked to join Big Butterfly Count as experts warn some species face extinction | Science and technology news


People in the UK are being asked to join the Big Butterfly Count as experts warn time is running out to save some species.

A recent report from wildlife organization Butterfly Conservation warns that more than two-fifths of Britain’s butterflies are at risk of extinction amid climate change, pollution and habitat loss.

The charity has warned that it’s not just rare species that are at risk.

Half of all British butterfly species are now on the Red List, with the latest assessment showing a 26% increase in the number of species classified as critically endangered.

Common butterflies – which are included in the census – have seen significant declines, as has the little fox, which was once found in gardens across the country and has declined 79% since 1976.

But with the right information and conservation efforts, species can be brought back from the abyss, Butterfly Conservation said.

The charity’s annual Big Butterfly Count can act as an “early warning system,” helping scientists understand how environmental changes are affecting insects and gathering data from areas that would otherwise go unrecorded, experts said.

And spending some time in nature watching butterflies as part of the count can be good for people’s mental health, they added.

To take the survey, people just have to spend 15 minutes outdoors, count the number and species of butterflies and some diurnal moths they see, and log their results on the Big Butterfly Count website or app.

Last year’s butterfly census submitted a record 150,000 reports of sightings – all based on people taking 15 minutes to go outside and relax and take notes on the different butterflies they see.

However, the numbers reported – an average of just nine per person – were the lowest recorded by the citizen survey since the program began 13 years ago.

The Clifden Nonpareil moth, thought to have been extinct in Britain for 50 years, has now reintroduced and is breeding

Butterfly Conservation wants to know if this trend will continue in 2022.

dr Zoe Randle, Senior Survey Officer at Butterfly Conservation, said: “Thanks to the wonderful UK audience, who turned out in their thousands, Big Butterfly Count is the world’s largest natural history citizen science project involving insects and provides us with a valuable snapshot of what butterflies are like happened across the UK.

“It can act as an early warning system, letting us know how various environmental changes are affecting insects and allowing us to collect important data from places that would otherwise be completely uncharted.”

Continue reading:
Butterfly numbers at lowest on record as experts warn UK wildlife is in a ‘dangerous’ state
Previously extinct large blue butterfly thrives after reintroduction

dr Randle added, “We really need people’s help this year to figure out where our butterflies are and what we need to do to save them.”

It comes as species are being discovered in new areas while others are becoming increasingly difficult to find in the UK.

The Jersey tiger, a conspicuous moth that flies both day and night, makes its first appearance in this year’s Great Butterfly Census Identification Chart.

Research shows that the species is well established on the south coast of England but is moving further north and is now found in increasing numbers in London.

Meanwhile, the great blue butterfly was introduced to Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire in 2019 after spending five years preparing the landscape for the species.

The life cycle of the globally endangered large blue butterflies involves the larvae enticing a certain species of red ant into carrying them into their nest.

Large butterflies have returned after being declared extinct in Britain in 1979
Large butterflies have returned after being declared extinct in Britain in 1979

The species was declared extinct in Britain in 1979 before being reintroduced from European populations nearly 40 years ago and is now successfully reproducing in the wild.

To take part in Britain’s Big Butterfly Count, people only have to spend 15 minutes outdoors in sunny weather counting the types and quantities of butterflies and some daytime moths they see.

This year’s census runs from July 15th to August 7th and people can visit to learn and participate or download the free Big Butterfly Count app.

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