Thursday, 24 April 2008

Flutteredby?


Many UK butterfly species appear to be in a parlous state after the washout summer of 2007 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7363411.stm). The rain didn't give these ephemeral insects sufficient time to feed and breed, leading to the suggestion that some marginal populations will need a good summer in 2008 to recover their numbers or they may well disappear. The needs of most butterflies are many and varied generally including basking areas, flowers for the adults to refuel on nectar, periods of calm sunshine so they can fly to locate and interact with a mate, plants on which the female can lay eggs for the resulting hatched larvae to consume, pupation sites etc. Some, like the Large blue (Maculinea arion), depend on complex relationships with host Red ant colonies (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3568321.stm). The point is, that untimely weather can have a serious impact on these much appreciated animals. They also have to deal with urbanisation, fungal infections, spiders, insect-eating birds, parasitic wasps etc etc. It's presumably why they are regarded as sensitive indicators of environmental change.

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