Category Archives: Science & Research

How are Dorset’s butterflies doing?

Distribution map: Small Copper
Distribution map: Small Copper

In order to help butterflies, we need to know about them first. If you haven’t spotted our Distribution Atlas pages yet, do go and have a look at them; they can be accessed via our ‘Recording‘ page.

Our Records Officer, Bill Shreeves, has done a magnificent job taking both a long-term and short-term view of our records from 1970 to 2014, showing how the various species have fared in Dorset. Each species has a distribution map of sightings between 2010 and 2014, followed by information showing population trends.

This is still a work in progress. We will be adding Dorset flight-time charts soon, and Bill is working on further ways of illustrating trends, and hopefully we may be able to crunch the numbers to achieve some abundance data, too.



OBE for Dr Martin Warren

A group of people walking towards the camera across grass
Martin Warren (far left) at Alners Gorse Butterfly Reserve

The Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation are delighted to see that Martin Warren, recently retired Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, has been awarded an OBE. Some people think this stands for ‘Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire‘; we think it’s for ‘Outstanding Butterfly Expert’! Continue reading

Big Butterfly Count 2016 – the results

Comma. Photo: Andrew Cooper
Comma. Photo: Andrew Cooper

Common butterflies saw their numbers collapse over the summer despite the UK experiencing weather conditions that usually help them to thrive, results from the Big Butterfly Count have revealed. Continue reading

2015 Butterfly Report

Example of a double page spread from the report

You can find out how the butterflies of Dorset fared during 2015 from our Annual Butterfly Report, available on our Butterfly Reports page. 36 pages, now in full colour! See whether it was a good butterfly year or not, and which species fared well or badly. Continue reading

The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015

Wall Brown
Wall Brown. Photo: Bob Eade

More than three-quarters of the UK’s butterflies have declined in the last 40 years with some common species suffering significant slumps, a major scientific study has revealed. Continue reading

Neonicotinoids linked to UK butterfly declines

Small Tortoiseshell
Small Tortoiseshell. Photo: Tim Melling

The use of neonicotinoid pesticides may be contributing to the decline of british butterflies a new study by the Universities of Stirling and Sussex in partnership with Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has revealed. Continue reading

Big Butterfly Count results

Holly Blue
Holly Blue (female) egg-laying. Photo: Dean Morley

A butterfly locked into an evolutionary struggle with its parasitic wasp nemesis, Listrodomus nycthemerusa, has bounced back this summer following a series of steep declines, results from the Big Butterfly Count have revealed! Continue reading

Holly Blue on the way up?

Holly Blue butterfly on a leaf, showing pale underside and a little of the black band of the edge around the top side of the wings
Holly Blue. Photo: Nigel Tooth

The Holly Blue is a butterfly which goes through a cycle of being very numerous, then plummeting to low levels, then increasing again. This is thought to be due to a parasitic wasp by the name of Listrodomus nycthemerus, which kills the butterfly in its caterpillar stage – when the butterfly numbers have been reduced far enough, the wasp has no host on which to predate, so the wasp’s numbers reduce, allowing the butterfly’s numbers to increase, and vice versa. Continue reading