What a fantastic summer we had. And it wasn’t just us enjoying the sun – all sorts of other animals had a great time of it too. Invertebrates generally had a very good year. The few species we try to count showed that. Butterfly Conservation‘s annual citizen survey recorded nearly twice the numbers of individual butterflies than last year, with its miserable excuse for a summer. We even had the beautiful Clouded Yellow in Somerset, in numbers I had never seen anywhere before. There have been huge numbers of fat new bumblebee queens about. You can bet honeybee numbers will turn out to be good this year too, as colonies have been able to forage all through the summer, untroubled by cold and wet.
This is obviously good news, but there is a hidden downside to it, which Butterfly Conservation’s Richard Fox hints at:
It reminds us that butterflies are resilient and will thrive given good weather and suitable habitats. The problem facing UK butterflies is not the notoriously variable weather but the way that humans manage the landscape
Hmm… well, while “variable weather” might not be a threat I think climate change is. If cold wet summers become much more the norm then we’ve got problems.
Whatever; the weather does detract from the key message of the invertebrate charities that we work with – the habitat bit. And that’s a problem. We have a good summer and there are buzzing, crawling, flying things everywhere. People ask themselves if there really can be a problem with habitat loss. We have a cold wet summer and that gets the blame for plummeting invertebrate populations. In either event there’s not very much they can do about it, which makes for fatalism and disengagement. Compared to a series of miserable weekends in July, habitat loss is a pretty intangible concept too. Tricky.