Butterfly Conservation has revealed a huge surge in sightings of the Red Admiral, a migrant species of butterfly, as the Big Butterfly Count enters its final week.
The Red Admiral is currently flying high with 170,000 sightings reported so far*, an impressive increase of 400% on the same period last year.
It is definitely a ‘Red Admiral year’, with people throughout the country reporting seeing the butterfly while taking part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count.
The Red Admiral is a familiar and popular butterfly across the UK. It is a garden favourite and found in all types of habitat. However, what may come as a surprise to many is that this small but mighty butterfly is a migrant species, travelling to the UK from North Africa and continental Europe!
There can be no doubt that climate change is the driver behind a long-term increase in Red Admiral numbers.
Each spring, and continuing through the summer, Red Admirals migrate north where the females lay eggs. Consequently, there is an emergence of fresh butterflies from July onwards.
However, in recent years, scientists are seeing an indication that numbers have increased, and that the species is now overwintering in the UK, particularly in the South of England.
With temperatures increasing, the Red Admiral’s need to return to its southerly winter habitat is reducing, which means it is possible we will see a greater number of the species spending the winter in the UK.
his year’s early results show why the Big Butterfly Count is so important in helping scientists to understand how the weather and changing climate are affecting butterflies.
Posted On: 03/08/2023