Butterflies have been around for millions of years. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they are also vital to ecosystems, education, and biological research. But they are suffering. A new report reveals that half of the butterflies in Britain are now facing extinction.
Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation worked with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to gather data on butterflies in the UK.
The research features in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity. It shows that the number of butterfly species threatened with extinction has risen by 26 percent.
The IUCN Red List has nine categories, these include: Not Evaluated, Data Deficient, Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild, and Extinct.
Doing more for butterfly protection
Chalkhill Blues, Silver-spotted Skippers, and Adonis Blues are among the butterfly species now classified as Vulnerable. According to IUCN, this means they are now “facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.”
One of their biggest threats is thought to be nitrogen deposition. This comes from intensive farming and fossil fuels. According to Plant Life’s “We Need to Talk About Nitrogen” report, excessive nitrogen deposition impacts around 63 percent of sensitive wildlife habitats in the UK.
But the new butterfly research isn’t totally negative. It also shows that large blue butterflies have moved from Critically Endangered to Near Threatened after intense dedicated conservation efforts. High Brown Fritillaries have also moved from Critically Endangered to Endangered.
Dr. Richard Fox, Butterfly Conservation’s head of science, said: “Where we are able to target conservation work, we have managed to bring species back from the brink.”
“But, with the extinction risk increasing for more species than are decreasing, more must be done to protect our butterflies from the effects of changing land management and climate change.”