Butterflies are declining in urban areas more than in the countryside

Small Copper Butterfly. Photo: Essex Wildlife Trust.

A new study by Butterfly Conservation, The University of Kent and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has found that butterflies are declining more dramatically in urban areas than in the countryside. Overall, butterfly abundance in urban areas has fallen by 69% compared with a 45% decline in more rural areas.

The urban decline appears to be due to loss of habitat in urban areas, mainly because of the trend towards increased paving and decking in gardens, use of pesticides and the increasing development of back gardens for housing. Butterflies such as the Small Heath and Small Copper appear to be particularly vulnerable, both species exist in small, localised populations and rely on grasses and weedy areas to survive.

More information is available from the Butterfly Conservation website here.

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