Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Scottish butterfly sightings drop three-quarters in one year, conservation survey reveals

A Painted Lady butterfly.
A Painted Lady butterfly.

The number of butterfly sightings in Scotland dropped almost three-quarters in the last year, according to “worrying” new statistics.

Charity Butterfly Conservation has released new statistics following its Big Butterfly Count initiative, which took place from July 17 – August 9.

During this period, people across the UK were asked to keep an eye out for the winged insects and log the numbers and different species they saw – counting more than 1.4 million overall.

A Large White butterfly.

But the organisation says the results point to the lowest average number of butterflies logged since it began the annual survey 11 years ago.

In Scotland just under 27,000 bugs were seen, with around 6.5 per count, marking a 70% decrease on 2019’s figures.

The number of Painted Lady butterflies plummeted from 140,000 last year to just 231.

On average last year, they were spotted 14 times per count – but this fell to 0.06 in 2020.

There were also significant drops in the country’s Silver Y, Brimstone, Holly Blue and Peacock species.

At the same time more than triple the number of Six-spot Burnets and double the number of Meadow Browns were seen.

Zoe Randle, Butterfly Conservation’s senior surveys officer, said butterfly numbers can fluctuate wildly but insisted this does not invalidate the figures.

She said: “Last year, for example, we saw a huge influx of migrant Painted Lady butterflies.

“The data from the Big Butterfly Count is an important snapshot which, along with our other monitoring schemes, helps our understanding of the rates of decline of butterflies and moths.

“These 2020 results illustrate the perilous state of wildlife in the UK.

“However, the fact that so many people take part in this exciting citizen science initiative is encouraging and makes a huge difference to our understanding of how the natural world is responding to the crisis it is in.”

A total of 4,188 counts were submitted by 3,207 participants in Scotland.

The Small Tortoiseshell was the most prolific, with almost 5,000 seen during the period.

This, however, was still a 21% decrease on the population from last year.

Dr Randle said a number of factors may have contributed to the decrease in numbers.

“An unusually warm spring led many species to emerge earlier than usual,” she said.

“So we may have only caught the tail-end of the flight period for many species during this year’s Big Butterfly Count.

“It’s important to look at trends over longer periods, so our scientists will be using these results alongside our other datasets to get a clearer understanding of what is happening.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in