Bumper autumn butterfly numbers expected

Why you could see butterflies in your garden up until early November.

Red admiral butterfly

Red admiral butterflies are one of the species that can be seen on the wing in autumn © Tim Melling / Butterfly Conservation


Despite a wet summer, the UK could experience a boost in butterfly sightings this autumn.

The warm conditions in spring and early summer meant that many UK butterfly species emerged from hibernation and bred earlier than usual this year.

As a result, some species have had time to breed again before winter sets in, and may take advantage of flower-rich gardens.

“Gardens become increasingly important for butterflies at this time of year,” says Richard Fox, head of recording at Butterfly Conservation.

“Nectar, the flight fuel for most of our butterflies, is in short supply in the countryside as we move into autumn, yet many of our garden flowerbeds and borders are still full of colour.”

Butterfly Conservation are asking gardeners to keep an eye out for butterflies during autumn and early winter, to help them understand how important gardens are for UK butterflies during this time.

If mild conditions persist, a range of butterfly species can be seen through autumn and into early November, including peacock, painted lady and small copper.

Species require nectar for different purposes, with some building up fat reserves in order to survive through hibernation as an adult, including small tortoiseshell and comma, while others, such as red admiral, need to migrate south to the Mediterranean.

“For some butterflies it is a matter of life and death,” says Fox. “If they can’t find enough nectar they simply won’t make it through to breed next spring.”

Click here to read more about Butterfly Conservation’s Garden Butterfly Survey.


Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine

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