Bees and butterflies are doing surprisingly well in Britain

Lewis at woodlands.co.uk tells us that, in Britain this year, bees and butterflies are doing better than expected. There’s still time to do the Big Butterfly Count one sunny day, and we’re getting plenty of sunny days!

I did the Count in my back garden, disappointed to see only two butterflies. I recorded these as small white (Pieris rapae). They didn’t stop for long enough for me to work out whether they were, in fact, large white (Pieris brassicae). Either of those species would be no surprise here, adjacent to an allotment site where those butterflies’ larval food plants (Brassicacae) are thriving.

In any case, I submitted my results to the Butterfly Count website. Data is data. When the survey results are published, I’ll let you know. I hope Lewis’ early comments turn out to be correct. Also that he’s right about the bees doing unexpectedly well.

This year the bees and other insects are still suffering the pesticides called neonics, but a two-year ban on those will come into force at the end of 2013. You can follow my ‘neonicotinoid’ tag for more about this.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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6 Responses to Bees and butterflies are doing surprisingly well in Britain

  1. Finn says:

    I’m seeing good numbers of some but not all of the common butterflies in my area now the hot weather has set in, e.g. ringlet, large and small white, meadow brown. Numbes of orange tip, holly blue and gatekeeper, are down, and I haven’t seen any common blue, brown argus, small copper or green veined white yet. I have seen one painted lady though, which was the butterfly highlight so far this year.

    But I was talking to the warden at Brampton Wood near Huntingdon last weekend where I was looking for brown hairstreaks (I didn’t find any), and he said that there were very good numbers of ‘summer’ butterflies such as white admiral and purple emperor in Fermyn Wood near Kettering in Northamptonshire.

    So it looks as though the mad weather may have affected different species in different ways depending on when they normally emerge.

    • argylesock says:

      You’re probably right. Lewis’ article talks about species differences, too – it was a bit simplistic of me to say that the news was good overall.

      Your butterfly sightings sound great. Can you identify many of them while they’re flying, or do you need them to land and stay still? The Big Butterfly Count brought home to me how limiting my eyesight is now.

  2. Carol Hague says:

    I hadn’t seen many butterflies at all this year, but yesterday (which was very hot indeed) I saw at least two dozen whites (not sure if large or small) on the allotment site. And in our garden there was a Red Admiral, which appeared to take a great liking to Rob’s socks on the washing line 🙂

    Makes me wonder if they’ve just been a bit late emerging this year because of the rubbish spring.

  3. Pingback: Nature conservation succeeds in parts of Europe | Science on the Land

  4. Pingback: Butterflies in Britain, summer 2013 | Science on the Land

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