Blog - butterflies

Big Butterfly count 2021.

Big Butterfly count 2021.

by blogs at woodlands, 7 October, 2021, 0 comments

Butterfly Conservation has organised the Big Butterfly Count for the last twelve years.  This year, the count took place between 16th July and August 8th.  The count gives some information of how butterfly and moth populations are faring.  Both butterfly and moth numbers give us some information about the ‘health’ of our environment, and indeed what has been termed the insect apocalypse. Though some 150,000 counts were registered this year, the ‘average’ number of butterflies / moths recorded per count was nine. This was down from the average count of 11 last year,  and 16 in 2019.   The total number of butterflies / moths counted was down by some 14% overall compared to last year. Those species that had significantly reduced counts were Peacock down by 64% Common Blue down by 59% Speckled wood was down by 41% Small tortoiseshell and the Comma dropped by 32% On a more positive note, the ringlet and marbled white were recorded in greater numbers (but they did have low counts last year). The Spring weather was probably a significant factor in these generally disappointing results.  The wet May would not have helped breeding or feeding; low temperatures are not conducive to activity.  The poor weather would particularly impact on those species that normally produce two broads a year.   Further information on the results of the count can be found the Butterfly Conservation website :  here.
stinging nettle

A sting in the tale?

by Chris, 25 September, 2020, 3 comments

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are widespread across the UK.   They are found nearly everywhere; in woodlands, hedgerows, gardens and on disturbed ground. Nettles have been found in and around human settlements since the earliest of times; they probably formed part of the diet in Stone Age times.  Nettles also provided fibre for clothing.  A piece of nettle cloth has been found in Denmark's richest known Bronze Age burial mound (Lusehøj). It is associated with the burial of a rich and powerful man - after the burning of his body, his bones were wrapped in a cloth made from stinging nettles and then placed in a bronze container. Stinging nettle pollen is often to be found in soil sample cores, suggesting it is one of our native plants though human activity and movement may helped it to extend its range.  Nettles can tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions, though they seem to like moisture, and soils rich in nitrate and phosphate. In favourable conditions, they can grow to a metre or more in height. There are patches of stinging nettles that mark phosphate-rich debris from abandoned villages and sites of human occupation from more than 1500 years ago. Nettles have the potential to grow and expand in woodlands, perhaps aided and abetted by the increasing levels of eutrophication (nitrate / phosphate enrichment from air borne pollution).  Indeed, they can become 'botanical thugs' overwhelming other members of the ground flora  / herb layer. Read more...

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