Butterfly back from the dead in Branscombe?

PUBLISHED: 11:00 03 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:06 17 June 2010

ALTHOUGH most wildlife has suffered at the hands of the weather this year, the National Trust has indicated a butterfly thought to be extinct in Britain may have bred again in Branscombe. The large tortoiseshell butterfly, thought to have been extinct in

ALTHOUGH most wildlife has suffered at the hands of the weather this year, the National Trust has indicated a butterfly thought to be extinct in Britain may have bred again in Branscombe.

The large tortoiseshell butterfly, thought to have been extinct in Britain for at least 20 years, may have bred on a trust property, the Branscombe Estate.

Several sightings have been made along the South coast this summer, and some of these are thought to have been captive-bred releases or migrants from the Continent.

But sightings in the Branscombe area raise the possibility that the large tortoiseshell butterfly may have bred, according to the trust's conservation adviser, Matthew Oates.

Many butterflies had a difficult year, but along with the large tortoiseshell, the large and small cabbage white and the purple emperor had successful years, which saw their numbers increase.

However, bats saw their staple food, insects, seriously affected by the heavy summer rain and many wildlife species were hit hard by the unpredictable weather.

A month by month account compiled by National Trust Wardens on its hundreds of estates in England and Wales shows that wildlife was severely affected by the weather in 2008.

Mr Oates said: "A cold late spring, a wet summer, with few sunny days, and the long dry autumn has shown how dependent our wildlife is on the weather. Many iconic species closely associated with the four seasons are having to cope with higher incidents of poor weather as our climate becomes more unpredictable."

Insects were also been hit particularly hard by the increasing number of adverse weather events as a result of climate change.

And bad weather conditions have led to a poor breeding season for birds, particularly the tit family and coastal birds.

The wet weather has also affected small plants and invertebrates as they have been squeezed out by dense grass growth, according to the National Trust.

Mr Oates added: "After two very poor years in a row we desperately need a good summer in 2009 otherwise its going to look increasingly grim for a wealth of wildlife in the UK.

"Climate change is not some future prediction of what might happen, it's happening now and having a serious impact on our countryside every year.


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