Nature notes: Winners and losers

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Butterflies on the buddleia ?

Nature notes: Winners and losers

Sadly very few compared with even five years ago. Many species are in real trouble. This year I’ve seen very few peacocks, red admirals, small tortoiseshells or commas and the large, small and green-veined whites are also scarce.

However, on a train journey last week through Surrey and Sussex the track margins were lined for mile after mile with buddleia bushes in full bloom. I noted reasonable numbers of white butterflies fluttering around the bushes increasingly so as the train progressed deeper into the countryside. So, hopefully, their populations will build as summer unfolds.

As for grassland species, the unusually ubiquitous meadow brown (pictured with male left, female below) is not having the best of seasons.

But, on a more positive note, there is a superabundance of large, small and Essex skippers whizzing among the meadowland grasses. The little butterflies are everywhere, even perching on our clothes as we walk along. Its such a delight to watch their antics.

The handsome ringlet and gatekeeper are also very common around woodland margins especially where brambles grow.So, we win some and lose some but overall, omens are not good. Habitat loss, pesticides and even petrol and diesel emissions are quoted as possible reasons for the declines of all insect groups.

Moths, also valuable pollinators are in steep decline too. Up until ten years ago my porch light on summer evenings would attract all sizes and species. Now, to see even one is a real bonus..

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