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Warming climate prompts butterfly migration and earlier plant flowering

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Butterfly and bramble

Images; Papilio machaon gorganus, Neil Hulme Butterfly Conservation and bramble flower WTPL Margaret Barton

With the Continental Swallowtail butterfly set to colonise Britain and common plants like holly, bramble and oxeye daisy flowering up to two weeks earlier, evidence of the effects of climate change can be seen.

Butterfly Conservation reports sightings of a dozen adults of the rare and spectacular Continental Swallowtail butterfly Papilio machaon gorganus, across Sussex, after a successful overwintering here; this follows the largest invasion by the butterfly since 1945, in last year’s hot summer.

“This current invasion could be the start of the colonisation of Southern England by the Swallowtail,” said Michael Blencowe from Butterfly Conservation’s Sussex Branch.” We’d be interested in hearing of any Swallowtails seen in Southern England.”  For details of how to submit sightings see www.butterflyconservation.org

Meanwhile Cambridge University researchers, comparing information from The Woodland Trust’s Nature Calendar on signs of the seasons collected by the public, with historic records, have found that 293 species of plants and trees in the UK are responding to an increase in temperatures, either by moving range north or flowering earlier. Although 38 species, including rowan and hawthorn appear to show no response which may suggest these cannot adapt to change.

“This paper highlights how important records provided by members of the public to The Woodland Trust are in identifying long term trends in the natural environment. For plants to survive as climate changes, it is crucial that we conserve and restore our natural habitats to make it easier for plants to disperse between them, “said Dr Kate Lewthwaite Nature Calendar’s Project Manager.

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