While the long-term trends of butterflies and moths tend to result from human activities such as habitat destruction and climate change, short-term changes, from year to year, butterfly generation to generation, are typically caused by natural factors such as the weather and populations of parasites. So, in cold, wet summers, such as in 2012, butterfly populations often crash, while in good summers, such as 2013, they bounce back.
The results of big butterfly count 2016, however, don’t fit this pattern. It was a pretty good summer, with above average temperatures and yet butterflies on the whole fared badly.
The average number of individual insects of the 20 target species seen per 15 minute count during big butterfly count 2016 was the lowest recorded since the project began in 2010! A mere 12.2 individuals per count were recorded, down from 13.4 per count in 2015, 14.7 in 2014 and a whooping 23 per count in 2013.
Despite the general scarcity of butterflies during the 2016 big butterfly count, huge number of people turned out, once again, to help with the world’s largest count of butterflies. Altogether, 38,233 counts were submitted, from the Isle of Sheppey to the Isle of Skye and all across the UK, by over 36,400 participants – a fantastic effort!
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