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Number of butterflies in the UK at a record low, survey finds

butterflies

Number of butterflies in the UK at a record low, survey finds

The UK has recorded its lowest ever number of butterflies in an annual survey of the insects, prompting conservationists to warn that nature is in crisis.

Butterfly Conservation, which counted butterflies and moths between 16 July and 8 August, said the results, released on Thursday, marked the lowest numbers since the Big Butterfly Count started 12 years ago and called for urgent action to be taken.

It is the latest warning sign for butterflies – which, as well as forming a vital part of the food chain, are considered significant indicators of the health of the environment – after decades of decline. Since 1976, 76% of butterflies have declined either in abundance or distribution.

Julie Williams, the charity’s chief executive, said: “The facts are clear. Nature is in crisis and we need urgent action, not just to prevent further species losses but to rebuild biodiversity.”

Of the 150,000 counts registered in this year’s snapshot, the most submitted to date, volunteers counted an average of nine butterflies or moths each count, down from an average of 11 last year and 16 in 2019.

Overall, there were 1,238,405 butterflies and moths counted – a 14% reduction on last year. The survey is carried out by volunteers who count the number and type of butterflies or moths they see in 15 minutes.

Among the species with significantly reduced counts were the small tortoiseshell, which dropped 32% and is in long-term decline in the UK, and the peacock butterfly, which was 63% down on last year and had its lowest count since 2012. Others that saw marked drops on last year were the comma (-32%), speckled wood (-41%) and common blue (-59%).

There were higher numbers of ringlets and marbled whites in this year’s count, which rose by 81% and 213% year-on-year respectively. But, the charity warned, the increases could simply reflect lower counts last year.

Zoë Randle, a senior surveys officer at Butterfly Conservation, said an extremely wet May, which brought the UK’s fourth-highest amount of rainfall on record for the month, was a significant factor for butterfly numbers, hindering their breeding and feeding.

“Butterflies don’t like the rain at all, they’re coldblooded insects. Effectively they’re solar-powered,” she said.

This was especially bad for species that produce two broods a year, most of which had their worst year in the history of the survey. “That first brood would have been really hammered by that wet May. So breeding success would have been limited, which led to fewer offspring being available to create the second generation,” said Randle, adding that it would have a knock-on effect on next year’s count.

And with extreme weather events expected to increase as a result of climate breakdown, it is feared the long-term impact on butterflies and moths could be devastating.

Butterfly Conservation has pledged to halve the number of threatened species in the UK, double its impact on landscape restoration and encourage people to create new wild nature spaces.

If action was not taken to protect them, Randle said, it would lead to a “continued degradation of the environment and the natural world”.

In addition to unusual weather patterns, Brian Eversham, an entomologist and the chief executive of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust, said insects were facing numerous pressures including habitat loss, polluted waterways and dangerous pesticide use.

But, he added: “While these findings are unsettling, we shouldn’t underestimate nature’s ability to recover if given a chance. We can all help by creating more habitats for wildlife.”

Top 10 species counted in the UK in the Big Butterfly Count 2021
1. Small White (252,151 counted; -5% on 2020)

2. Large White (229,218; -16%)

3. Meadow Brown (197,060; +33%)

4. Gatekeeper (133,726; -30%)

5. Red Admiral (75,394; -10%)

6. Ringlet (63,311; +81%)

7. Peacock (61,668; -63%)

8. Small Tortoiseshell (38,543; -32%)

9. Marbled White (28,704; +213%)

10. Green-veined White (27,784; -9%)

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Environment

NiMet predicts thunderstorm, rain from Friday to Sunday

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted thunderstorms and rains from Friday to Sunday across the country.

NiMet’s weather outlook released on Thursday in Abuja envisaged morning thunderstorms on Friday  over parts of Kano State and Kaduna State.

It anticipated thunderstorms over parts of Bauchi State, Gombe State, Zamfara, Sokoto State, Kaduna State, Adamawa and Taraba later in the day.

“In the North Central region, morning thunderstorms and rains are expected over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kogi, Benue, Niger and Nasarawa State.

”While later in the day, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi and Kwara.

“Morning rains are anticipated over parts of Oyo State, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Ondo State, Lagos State, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta, while intermittent rains are anticipated over the entire Southern region later in the day,” it said.

According to NiMet, morning thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Kebbi, Kaduna State and Zamfara on Sunday while afternoon and evening thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Gombe State, Kaduna State and Bauchi State.

The agency forecast thunderstorm and rains over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa State and Niger during the morning hours.

NiMet predicted thunderstorms and rains over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa State and Benue later in the day.

The agency envisaged morning rains over parts of Ondo State, Ogun, Edo and Lagos State.

It predicted intermittent rains over parts of Osun, Oyo State, Ogun, Ondo State, Lagos State, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River later in the day.

According to NiMet, morning thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Jigawa, Kebbi, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe State and Bauchi State later in the day on Sunday.

The agency anticipated thunderstorms  over parts of Katsina State, Zamfara, Sokoto State and Kebbi.

“In the North Central region, rains are expected over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa State, Plateau and Niger during the morning hours.

“Partly cloudy conditions are also expected over the region during the afternoon/evening hours.

“Morning rains are anticipated over parts of Edo and Lagos State, while in the afternoon/evening hours, intermittent rains are anticipated over parts of Ondo State, Ekiti and Osun” it said.

The agency urged the public to take adequate precaution as strong winds may precede the rains in areas where thunderstorms are likely to occur.

NiMet advised Airline operators to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations.

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Environment

Lagos to reintroduce monthly environmental sanitation

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved the reintroduction of monthly environmental sanitation in the state.

The state Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, who disclosed this to newsmen said the State Executive Council granted the approval. He said the sanitation which would commence in July, would be officially announced by the governor soon.

“Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the state executive council have approved the re-introduction of the monthly sanitation. The governor will announce it officially for the exercise to commence this month,” Wahab, who spoke in Yoruba language, said in a 21-second clip shared on the Lagos State Environmental Update page on X.

The state government stopped the monthly environmental sanitation exercise in the state in 2016.

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Environment

NEMA activates states’ emergency centres on flood assessment

The Director General National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Zubaida Umar has activated all Zonal, Territorial and Operation offices of the agency nationwide, to work with the States’ Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) within their area of responsibilities, to carry out rescue operations and conduct assessment of the situation.

The move is in furtherance of its proactive flood risk management.

A statement from the agency on Sunday, said the NEMA Zonal, Territorial and Operation offices are located in Lagos, Ibadan, Ekiti, Abuja, Minna, Jos, Enugu, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Edo, Uyo, Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Yola and Gombe.

At the headquarters, NEMA said it also operates a toll-free emergency contact line: 0800CALLNEMA (080022556362) in addition to all its social media platforms, through which feedback from members of the public can be received nationwide.

Consequently, NEMA said search and rescue officers have been deployed across the states, and have been providing the much-desired support in coordination of rescue operations with SEMAs and other stakeholders in recently flooded areas and communities.

The agency also said it is conducting a rapid assessment to determine any further assistance that may be required in the impacted communities.

It said, “The rescue efforts by NEMA are in addition to the ongoing sensitization and awareness activities being carried out to alert the public of the predicted flood for necessary actions to be taken to avert negative impacts.”

On Wednesday, 3rd July, Umar was in Anambra State on flood advocacy where she discussed with the Deputy Governor who represented the Governor, and religious and community leaders, on measures to avert and mitigate floods in the state which often record severe flooding annually. She has also previously visited several states and stakeholders across the country on the same mission with plans to continue with the advocacy.

It said, “As part of its pre-rainy season flood prevention advocacy, the Agency engaged the media in the placement of flood sensitisation jingles, and held an emergency coordination forum with critical stakeholders to prepare them for the predicted disaster.

The agency also said that soon after the flood prediction, written all state governments with the list of local governments that are at risk and outlined actions required to be taken to avert or mitigate the disaster.

It said, “A number of states that heeded the advisory from NEMA have acknowledged their early actions matched with the warnings and NEMA responses that have made lots of differences.

NEMA reemphasize the flood warning while calling on all stakeholders including the state and the local government, to be prepared for the intensifying of the rain season.

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