Wednesday 13 July 2011


In recent years there's been a lot of talk of butterflies as ultra-sensitive indicators of the impact of climate change - canaries in the climate change coalmine, if you like - so it's good to see that the Big Butterfly Count website (see below) emphasises environmental change in general, mentioning climate change almost as an afterthought. This might be another straw in the wind that's beginning to blow the warmists' agenda off course - largely because people are waking up to what the projected 'green energy' and 'carbon reduction' initiatives are going to cost us all. If you're going to clobber the economy and the taxpayer that hard, you need to be absolutely certain your projections are rock solid - and even then the taxpayers might refuse to play ball... But to return to butterflies, if climate change were to take the predicted effect of warming this none-too-torrid country, the general effect on butterfly numbers would surely be beneficial - every hot summer demonstrates this (as does every journey into warmer climes) and every cool damp spring/summer hits butterfly numbers hard. But what has hit them hardest over the postwar decades has been man-made environmental change that has nothing to do with carbon emissions. Intensive arable farming with attendant wholesale loss of habitat, the 'improvement' of grassland and the draining of marshes and fens have had a catastrophic impact on many species. Conversely, the relaxation (to put it politely) of woodland management and the withdrawal of grazing animals from downlands have hammered many other species. The efforts of Butterfly Conservation and others to reverse these environmental changes have often had spectacular local effects - but our butterflies still need a good run of warm, dry weather from spring well into summer if they're to prosper. And that we haven't had in years - climate change or no climate change.


  1. We have an extensive area of water meadows close to our house. When you walk through them, surrounded by waving grasses and bright galaxies of flowers, you can't help but think that you're in butterfly heaven. But whenever I am there I only manage to see one or two bored looking meadow browns. There are no caterpillars to be seen, none of the once ubiquitous peacocks, small tortoiseshells or red admirals - not even cinnabar caterpillars on the ragwort. It's the butterfly equivalent of the opening scenes of movie 28 days later

  2. I know Worm - it's depressing. I've had a pretty good butterfly year so far in terms of species (one of them the Emperor!) - but the numbers of individual butterflies I've seen, even in what should be happy hunting grounds, have generally been pathetic. I've still only seen a few availing themselves of the ever more abundant Buddleia. It's worrying.