Butterfly boom year

Its official, 2013 has been a classic year for butterflies according to the experts at Butterfly Conservation. After years of wash out summers butterflies have finally had the weather that they need to flourish.

If 2012 was a new low point for these symbols of summer, when they took a real battering from months of wet and windy weather, then the relief that we felt from a season finally worthy of its name stopped the butterfly equivalent of a fiscal cliff being reached.

Thinking about it this was my daughters first decent year for butterflies and she is six. As a result she has become a big fan and even managed to nurse a butterfly back to rude health on holiday using a bucket, flowers, fruit and tenderness.

There is something magical about butterflies for kids; it’s partly about their life cycle but also their beauty and vibrant colours. And the fact that they’ll often flutter by at their height or sit still long enough for them to get a good look at these fragile creatures.

Year after year of disappointing weather had almost pushed butterflies over the tipping point. They did reasonably well in places but the weather had added another challenge for these ever popular insects to add to the list of urban sprawl, a changing climate and habitat loss.

It’s been a real relief for National Trust wildlife adviser and leading butterfly expert Matthew Oates to have a boom in numbers during his 50th year of butterflying. He talks about more losers than winners in the last five decades and about the arrival of new species, including the long-tailed blue this summer at the White Cliffs of Dover, is a sign of things to come.

Just seeing large numbers of butterflies in flight in meadows, woodland and back gardens will be a memory that I’ll take from a summer rich in warmth and the long days of sunshine.

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