British British Butterflies At Risk

A new Red List of British butterflies outlines 23 species which are already extinct here or whose numbers have dropped to such low levels that they are vulnerable to extinction.

High Brown Fritillary

The High Brown Fritillary is one of two species rated as Critically Endangered. This species has been the fastest declining of all British butterflies seeing numbers drop by 85 per cent over a 10-year period.

The research confirms that butterflies are not only a highly threatened group in Britain but that they are faring worse than dragonflies, birds and plants. Twenty three species – 37 per cent of all our native butterflies – are considered to be regionally extinct or threatened. This compares to 21 per cent of dragonflies, 29 per cent of birds and 20 per cent of plants. A further 11 butterfly species are classified as ‘near threatened’ in the new Red List, leaving fewer than half (45 per cent) of Britain’s butterflies considered to be safe at present.

The figures are the result of a major re-assessment of the state of British butterfly populations using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List approach. It is based on data collected by thousands of volunteer recorders coordinated by the charity Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The results are consistent with previous evidence of butterfly trends and confirm that butterflies are a highly threatened group in Britain.

“The new Red List shows that the number of butterflies in need of our help has increased dramatically in the past 10 years,” says Richard Fox from Butterfly Conservation, who is lead author of the study. “We have already seen conservationists bring the Large Blue butterfly back from extinction but there is so much more we need to do to secure the future for our fastest declining species. They are our heritage.”

Threatened British butterflies defined by the new Red List (in order of threat category and then taxonomic order).

Species
Overall assessment

Black-veined White
Aporia crataegi
Regionally Extinct

Large Copper
Lycaena dispar
Regionally Extinct

Mazarine Blue
Polyommatus semi-argus
Regionally Extinct

Large Tortoiseshell
Nymphalis polychloros
Regionally Extinct

Large Blue
Glaucopsyche arion
Critically Endangered

High Brown Fritillary
Argynnis adippe
Critically Endangered

Chequered Skipper
Carterocephalus palaemon
Endangered

Wood White
Leptidea sinapis
Endangered

White-letter Hairstreak
Satyrium w-album
Endangered

Black Hairstreak
Satyrium pruni
Endangered

Duke of Burgundy
Hamearis lucina
Endangered

Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Boloria euphrosyne
Endangered

Glanville Fritillary
Melitaea cinxia
Endangered

Heath Fritillary
Melitaea athalia
Endangered

Dingy Skipper
Erynnis tages
Vulnerable

Grizzled Skipper
Pyrgus malvae
Vulnerable

Brown Hairstreak
Thecla betulae
Vulnerable

Silver-studded Blue
Plebeius argus
Vulnerable

Northern Brown Argus
Plebeius artaxerxes
Vulnerable

White Admiral
Limenitis camilla
Vulnerable

Marsh Fritillary
Euphydryas aurinia
Vulnerable

Grayling
Hipparchia semele
Vulnerable

Large Heath
Coenonympha tullia
Vulnerable

SOURCE

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