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The weather effect? By 1 April last year, I’d clocked 63 butterflies of 7 species. This year I’d only recorded 13 butterflies of 4 species. As well as our very wet and cool spring, it seems that last year’s hot dry summer is also having a prolonged effect on butterfly numbers. Butterfly Conservation has warned that

Drought impacts the offspring of the butterflies that are flying during the hot dry weather by causing the plants that caterpillars rely on for food to wither and die. Without sufficient food, many caterpillars will fail to survive, leading to lower numbers of butterflies in the next generation. For some of the UK species that have more than one generation in a year, the resulting major decline in numbers has already been seen. However, for others, the next generation isn’t on the wing until this summer, meaning there could be noticeably fewer butterflies around in 2023.

230406 speckled wood (1)

Imagine my delight then, when I finally spotted not one but my first two Speckled woods of 2023, a week later than last year. Let’s hope this year’s weather is a little more kind to our insect neighbours, though climate change is already affecting and will continue to affect them.

230406 speckled wood (2)