Saturday, 19 May 2012

Wet weather delaying and confusing butterflies

Wild spring baffles butterflies
May 2012. This year's wild spring weather has baffled UK butterflies with some species emerging earlier than usual while others have been delayed by the deluge. A warm March saw a number of spring specialists emerging very early, but these butterfly-friendly conditions were followed by the wettest April on record.
The wet weather continued well into May and delayed the typical emergence periods of many species. Cold, damp weather makes butterflies less active - reducing feeding and mating activity. If the wet conditions persist they could affect the breeding success of some species later in the year.
Small blue
Butterfly Conservation records emergence dates each spring. This year the Small Blue was one of the species to benefit from the mild winter and warm March.
The butterfly was seen on March 30th on the Isle of Wight - one of the earliest dates ever recorded for the species. The Small Blue typically emerges in mid-April in warmer years and early May when conditions are cooler.

Wood white, Common Blue & Brown argus
The rapidly declining Wood White was seen on April 10th in Surrey - the species normally emerges in late April or May. The threatened Pearl-bordered Fritillary was also recorded earlier than usual. But these early emergences soon slowed to a trickle as April became a record-breaking washout. The Common Blue and Brown Argus, which are seen in mid-April in warm years, were not reported until early May.

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