Hampshire Butterfly Species - Introduction

Introduction to Hampshire butterfly species, including an overview of those which have declined significantly and conservation recommendations.

Slideshow Showing The 11 Butterfly Species Resident In Hampshire Which Have Declined In Abundance At UK Level  By More Than 50% During The Last 4 Decades

The species section of this website contains this introduction together with 8 sub-pages. The first 7 subpages cover all 45 of the butterfly species found each year in Hampshire organised according to their family names. They provide information to aid the observer, including slideshow images to assist identification, brief descriptions of each species, as well as flight period details and examples of sites in Hampshire where they can be found. The final sub-page includes a consolidated flight period chart, providing a guide on which species are likely to be on the wing at a specific time of year. The remainder of this species introduction focuses mainly on the perilous state of some of our butterflies, the reasons for it and the conservation recommendations and measures which are being taken to address the challenges ahead.

 

As indicated on the home page, an alarming three-quarters of the UK's resident butterfly species are in a state of long term decline, with the situation in Hampshire broadly reflecting the national trend. Destruction and deterioration in butterfly habitats, evolving practices in respect of land use (both agricultural and woodland) and climate change are considered as significant factors.  In the case of the latter, recent study results indicate that many butterflies are failing to cope with more frequent extreme weather events and the changes in their environment, in some cases causing their life cycles to become out of sync with their foodplants. On the other hand, a few species are benefiting from the warmer temperatures, enabling them to extend their range northwards.

 

Furthermore, of the 45 species which can be found each year in Hampshire, the eleven species shown in the slideshow above have declined in abundance at the national level by more than 50% in the last 4 decades. These include habitat specialists, such as the Duke of Burgundy, Pearl-bordered and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, as well as butterflies of the wider countryside such as The Wall, Small Heath and a much loved garden butterfly, the Small Tortoiseshell. Indeed, a number of wider countryside species now rank among the most severely declining UK butterflies, which is a profound concern.

 

Whilst the overall picture is indeed alarming, there are also a few encouraging signs to build on. Trends over the past decade show that the long term decline of some threatened species may have been halted and small recoveries seen in some areas, largely as a result of targeted conservation measures. Examples include the Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

 

These findings are included in the report "The State Of The UK's Butterflies 2015" published by Butterfly Conservation, using data from world-class citizen science projects, such as the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) and Butterflies For The New Millennium (BNM).  If you would like to learn more about the findings of Butterfly Conservation's report on 'The State of the UK's Butterflies 2015', use the link here, however, I present below its main recommendations regarding the actions and conservation measures needed.

  • To stem the decline of butterflies, conservation measures are needed urgently at a variety of scales, from small patches of resources for butterflies in gardens and verges through to extensive landscapes of semi-natural habitat. Individual actions by members of the public can play an important part, but favourable Government policies are essential.

  • Climate change is likely to have a growing impact on butterfly populations and conservation and land-use policies need to adapt. Sites managed for butterflies and other wildlife need to be as large and diverse as possible, covering a range of aspects, microclimates and vegetation types. Climate change adaptation should be incorporated into plans for all threatened species.

  • The data presented in the report highlight the enormous and increasing value of butterfly recording and monitoring schemes, not just to assess the state of butterflies, but also to help gauge the state of the environment as a whole. These schemes must be maintained and adequately resourced so that we can understand future changes, evaluate land-use policies and conservation strategies and adapt them accordingly.

  • The recommendations made in the previous State of Butterflies report (2011) remain valid and their implementation is now more urgent than ever:

    • Maintain and restore high quality, resilient habitats through landscape-scale projects.

    • Restore the species-focussed approach that has proved effective in reversing the decline of threatened species. While an integrated 'ecosystem services' view of biodiversity is important, it alone will not save threatened butterflies.

    • Enhance funding for agri-environment and woodland management schemes targeted at species and habitats of conservation priority.

    • Restore the wider landscape for biodiversity in both rural and urban areas, to strengthen ecosystems and benefit the economy and human welfare.

    • Encourage public engagement through citizen science schemes such as the BNM, UKBMS and Big Butterfly Count.

    • Increase the use (and monitoring) of landscape-scale projects for threatened wildlife and ensure that funding mechanisms are in place to support them.

© Copyright Alan Thornbury's Hampshire Butterflies 2020