Small Tortoiseshell butterfly numbers

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Small Tortoiseshell butterfly numbers are still on the decline.

I always look forward to receiving “Butterfly“, the magazine of Butterfly Conservation, but I have to admit that I often finish the read feeling a little bit depressed. Despite all the fantastic work Butterfly Conservation and its ever growing band of volunteers do there are always some harsh facts that valuable research has revealed concerning the status of one or more British butterfly species.

The Summer edition was no exception as it emphasised the continued national decline of the Small Tortoiseshell sightings in our gardens. Not long ago this was once one of the most common butterflies to be seen in a whole range of diverse habitats all over the UK. Numbers used to overwinter and it would be one of the first species I always remember appearing in the early months of the year wherever I was living at the time.

I’ve seen only one this year in the garden and a handful of others including this one photographed last week at Predannack Wollas on the Lizard. Whatever the reasons and there seem to be many including a parasitic fly, climate change, loss of habitat, changing farm practices and even us planting butterfly unfriendly plants in our gardens it is all very alarming.

On the plus side there are some good news stories and the successful reintroduction of the Large Blue is one of them. Let us hope no more reintroductions of extinct butterflies are necessary again.

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