This was the year when my butterfly-counting was supposed to have done a ‘quantam leap’. Or, I suppose, you could say take flight.
I’ve been doing my bit for Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count for years, but decided this year it was time to give up on scraps of paper and blunt pencils and start using the charity’s app.
Sadly, though the app is good, 2016 wasn’t as good for butterflies. I’ve had my phone handy whenever I’ve been out and about, but there hasn’t been much for it to do.
Across Britain the weather wasn’t that bad, but the survey results show a Wales-wide collapse in many species’ populations. For example, small tortoiseshell numbers were down on 2015 by close to half.
Most others species saw downturns that were between 30 and 40 per cent. One or two did buck the trend – most notably, red admiral and large white.
Sadly, records show the sharpest drop in numbers has happened in Wales, although England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have all experienced something similar. You can read a break down of the results here.
The strange thing is that 2016 had the sort of weather that would usually have been good to butterflies. It was warmer than average and fairly dry.
BC admits to being mystified, saying that the very mild 2015-16 winter may have had a negative effect, or perhaps it was the cold spring. Or, maybe pesticide use is really beginning to take its toll.