State of UK Butterflies 2022

If you want to know how the UK’s butterflies are faring, you need to see the “State of UK Butterflies 2022” report.This looks at the incredible range of data collected on butterflies in the UK up to 2019.

Headline findings include:

  • Almost twice as many species have decreased in either abundance or distribution (or both) than have increased.
  • On average UK butterflies have lost 6% of their abundance and 42% of their distribution between 1976 and 2019.
  • The species worst hit are those which need specialist habitats; species which can breed in the farmed countryside and in urban areas have fared less badly.
  • The picture is complex: some species are doing well, but overall the view is not good.
A bright blue butterfly with white fringe to the wings resting on some green vegetation

Adonis Blue. Photo: Mel Bray. Shown by the Report to have increased by 21% when looking at the average 10-year abundance change, but to have decreased by 31% in relation to the average 10-year distribution change.

One thing that strikes us, as an all-volunteer branch of the national society is the huge input of citizen science recording, some of which will have come through this website and Dorset’s many transect walks.

  • The number of distribution records per year in the Butterflies for the New Millenium recording scheme has gone up from less than half a million in 2000 to over 1.2 million by 2019 (the graph goes back to 1970 but it is not possible to read the small early figures).
  • The number of sites monitoring abundance per year contributing to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) has increased from around 750 in the year 2000 to 3,000 now.

The State of UK Butterflies 2022 report is very well written with lots of helpful graphs and is well worth a read. Read it, then think what you can do to help…

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