Butterflies soar again: Public count shows decline is reversed

By Fay Schlesinger

On the up: The Small Tortoiseshell, which are often attacked by a parasite, are set to flourish again

Two butterflies which have suffered a severe decline have revived to flourish again, the biggest count of its kind has shown.

The Small Tortoiseshell came under attack from a parasitic fly which caused numbers to drop by more than 80 per cent.

But it made the top ten list of butterflies spotted by members of the public last month

The orange Gatekeeper, which has suffered a run of extremely bad years, surprised experts by ranking number three, with 29,000 sightings in the UK – one in six of the total.

A rise in city habitats has helped the boom, with people taking greater care to plant window boxes and allow long grass and flowers to grow.

The results came from the first Big Butterfly Count, in which more than 10,000 people across the UK carried out 15-minute observations in gardens, parks and fields, spotting 187,000 butterflies over one week between July 24 and August 1.

The count showed that the most common species is the Small White, closely followed by its relative the Large White.

Other widespread butterflies were the Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Peacock, Green-veined White, Red Admiral and Ringlet.

Despite positive results overall, the Butterfly Conservation group, which ran the survey, warned that the situation remains dire, with 70 per cent of British species in decline and half threatened with extinction.

Surprising: The orange Gatekeeper has had a run of bad years, but ranked in at number three in the count

source :dailymail