Butterfly Conservation Hampshire and
Saving butterflies, moths and our environment Isle of Wight Branch
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The Species Conservation web page includes a series of articles to illustrate various conservation actions and projects in progress.

Status of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight butterflies and moths

click image to access report
"The State of the UK's Butterflies 2011" published by Butterfly Conservation, summarises the results of the "UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme" and the "Butterflies for the New Millennium" (BNM) project. The former involves weekly butterfly recording from 1 April to 30 September, on an annual basis at 1000+ sites in Britain, and has enabled detailed analysis of species trends (90-100 sites are in Hampshire & Isle of Wight). The BNM project has provided detailed and up to date distribution maps for all British butterfly species based on over 6 million butterfly records submitted by members of the public.

The main conclusions from the 2011 Report were:

* UK butterflies are still in decline, with 72% of species showing a 10-year decline at monitored sites, and 54% of species showing a contraction in their distribution range. Even so, with 46 resident butterfly species, Hampshire & Isle of Wight remains one of the best areas for butterflies in the whole of Britain.

* Habitat specialist butterflies are the ones showing the greatest decline, but overall numbers of our more common 'wider countryside' species are also showing signs of decline.

*  Ongoing habitat loss and degradation is a particular concern, with changing land management practices & habitat fragmentation causing many species declines. The increased isolation of small colonies is of greatest concern for those species only able to disperse over very short distances.

* On a more positive note, 31 species showed increases in either their geographical range or population trends. In northern Britain, some species have shown a particularly marked northward extension of their range in response to climate warming, and in Hampshire & Isle of Wight the Clouded Yellow has become locally established in coastal areas and the Glanville Fritillary is increasing its range.

* Butterflies are extremely sensitive to environmental change, and are thus excellent indicators of the health of the countryside. They have been adopted by Government as one of the official indicators of biodiversity and the environment.

click image to access report
"The State of Britain's Larger Moths" published in 2006, provides an overview of the status of moths in Britain, and has been followed by publication of the Provisional Atlas of the UK's Larger Moths, in 2010, with detailed distribution maps for all species.

The main conclusions from the 2006 report were:

* Common moth species are declining - two thirds (226 out of 337) of common moths showed pronounced population declines over the period 1968-2002 (Rothampstead light trap results). Such declines are likely to have knock-on effects up the food chain.

* Applying international (IUCN) criteria, 71 of the so-called 'common' moths would be classified as threatened, with 15 classed as 'Endangered' and 56 as 'Vulnerable'.  Even the Cinnabar moth falls in the latter category by virtue of an 83% population decline over 35 years.

* South-east Britain (which includes Hampshire & Isle of Wight) shows a much higher proportion of species in decline (75%) compared with northern Britain (55%).

* Despite the overall declines, there are many new colonisers and species expanding their range in southern counties. Some species have increased considerably over recent decades, including Hampshire & Isle of Wight species such as Least Carpet (Idaea rusticata), Blair's Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri), Satin Beauty (Deileptenia ribeata), Treble Brown Spot (Idaea trigeminata) and Peacock moth (Macaria notata).

You can help

There are many things we can do as individuals to help. For example, you could leave a corner of your garden to grow wild with uncut grass. You could also plant food plants for the larvae of our native butterflies & moths. Easiest of all, you could plant a good range of nectar and pollen sources to give all year round food for butterflies, moths and other important pollinating insects.

You can send in your butterfly and moth records to help us maintain an up to date an accurate picture of the status and distribution of all species in Hampshire & Isle of Wight. You can also get involved as a volunteer with practical conservation work parties held on Butterfly Conservation's nature reserves, or similar activities run by other organisations at important sites managed for the benefit of butterflies, moths and other wildlife.

Priority Butterflies in Hampshire and Isle of Wight

In 2000, Butterfly Conservation published its "South-Central England Regional Action Plan" covering Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire & Isle of Wight. Following strict guidelines based on national importance, rarity and rates of decline, the Regional Action Plan (RAP) identified 15 high priority butterflies, of which 13 occured in Hampshire & the Isle of Wight.  Since then, a major review of UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) species has taken place. The fully revised and updated list was published in 2007 resulting in significant changes to the national list of butterflies and moths (see Review Article by Bourn, N. (2007) pp. 19-21 in Issue 96 of Butterfly). The current list of high priority butterflies for Hampshire & Isle of Wight now also includes Dingy Skipper, Grayling, Wall, White Admiral, White-letter Hairstreak (all elevated from Medium Priority), and Small Heath. The full list of 18 species is as follows:

  • Adonis Blue (Polyommatus bellargus)
  • Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae)
  • Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages)
  • Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina)
  • Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia)
  • Grayling (Hipparchia semele)
  • Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae)
  • High Brown Fritillary (Argynnis adippe)
    Highslide JS
    Small Pearl-bordered
  • Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia)
  • Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne)
  • Purple Emperor (Apatura iris)
  • Silver-spotted Skipper (Hesperia comma)
  • Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus)
  • Small Blue (Cupido minimus)
  • Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)
  • Wall (Lasiommata megera)
  • White Admiral (Limenitis camilla)
  • White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album)

A further 2 species of butterfly are classed as medium priority, namely:

  • Chalkhill Blue (Polyommatus coridon)
  • Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja)

Priority Moths

The South-central England RAP (2000) recognised 37 macro-moths as high priority species, namely:

  • Argent & Sable (Rheumamptera hastate) *
  • Barberry Carpet (Pareulype berberata) *
  • Barred Tooth-striped (Trichopteryx polycommata) *
  • Beautiful Gothic (Leuchoclaena oditis)
  • Blair's Wainscot (Sedina buettneri)
  • Bordered Gothic (Heliophobus reticulate) *
    Highslide JS
    Marbled Clover
    Photo © Paul Brock
  • Brighton Wainscot (Oria musculosa) *
  • Buttoned Snout (Hypena rostralis)
  • Chalk Carpet (Scotopteryx bipunctaria) *
  • Common Fan-foot (Pechipogo strigilata) *
  • Dark Crimson Underwing (Catocala sponsa) *
  • Dingy mocha (Cyclophora pendularia) *
  • Double Line (Mythimna turca)
  • Drab Looper (Minoa murinata) *
  • Heart Moth (Dicycla oo) *
  • Light Crimson Underwing (Catocala promissa) *
  • Lunar Yellow Underwing (Noctua orbona) *
  • Marbled Clover (Heliothis viriplaca)
  • Morris's Wainscot (Photedes morrisii)
  • Narrow-bordered Bee hawk-moth (Hemaris tityus) *
  • Olive Crescent (Trisateles emortualis) *
  • Orange Upperwing (Jodia croceago) *
  • Pale Shining Brown (Polia bombycina) *
  • Portland Ribbon Wave (Idaea degeneraria)
  • Reddish Buff (Acosmetia caliginosa) *
    Highslide JS
    Scarce Merveille du Jour
    Photo © Richard Coomber
  • Reed Leopard (Phragmataecia castaneae)
  • Scarce Merveille du Jour (Moma alpium)
  • Shoulder-striped Clover (Heliothis maritima warnecki) *
  • Southern Chestnut (Agrochola haematidea)
  • Speckled Footman (Coscinia cribraria bivittata) *
  • Square-spotted Clay (Xestia rhomboidea)
  • Striped Lychnis (Shargacucculia lychnitis) *
  • The Four-spotted (Tyta luctuosa) *
  • The Triangle (Heterogenea asella)
  • White Spot (Hadena albimacula) *
  • White-line Snout (Schrankia taenialis)
  • White-spotted Pinion (Cosmia diffinis) *

A further 96 medium priority macro-moths were also recognised.

The 2007 review of UKBAP species resulted in a major revision of the UK high priority moth list, with many new additions of both macro- and micro-moths (for further detail, see Bourn (1997) pp. 19-21 in Issue 96 of Butterfly). The Hampshire & Isle of Wight list is currently under review, but of the 37 High Priority macro-listed above, those on the current UKBAP priority list have an asterisk (*) after their name.

Regional Action Plan (RAP) & Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)

Following the signing of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) were drawn up throughout Britain at national level, county level & local authority level, with the intention of arresting the loss and degradation of habitat and associated decline of species. Scientific research has established that increasing biological diversity in any one geographical area not only increases its production capability but also its resilience to environmental change.

Butterfly Conservation's South-Central England RAP (2000), was complementary to the BAPs insofar as it identified priority species and addressed the particular issues concerning Lepidoptera & their habitats. Based upon national criteria & definitions, it set out conservation actions & targets for butterflies, moths & their habitats in South-Central England (Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight & Wiltshire) for the period 2000 - 2010. The intent was to arrest the decline of all butterfly & moth species with special emphasis on the high and medium priority butterfly and macro-moth species.

The principal aims were:

  • To seek opportunities to extend the breeding areas and their connectivity for the high & medium priority species; in essence, to build larger blocks of appropriately managed landscape.
  • Where ecological knowledge is inadequate for a species then undertake research to rectify this & publish the findings.
  • To seek collaboration with partners & to provide realistic management advice to land managers & owners.
  • Where appropriate, consider possible acquisition of sites as nature reserves or, alternatively, set up management agreements with the present land owners.
  • Where no prospect of recolonisation within the former range of a species exists, then to consider re-establishment of key species.
  • Through education & publicity to increase the public awareness of the plight of Lepidoptera & their habitats & the work of Butterfly Conservation.

The period 2000-2010 undoubtedly gave rise to substantial advances in all of the above, with many conservation success stories to be proud of. However, there is no doubt that for many species the declines continue, requiring that our conservation efforts should be increased still further.

2020 vision - the way forward

Following a meeting in September 2010, Butterfly Conservation produced a "2020 vision" document, outlining targets for the Society for the period up to 2020. The document defines the rationale for each target, and provides an outline strategy of how these will be achieved.

Following this lead, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch of Butterfly Conservation has developed a similar Branch strategy. Its primary purpose is to guide actions taken by the Branch to ensure consistency with the strategy of the Society as a whole, with the intention of achieving maximum benefit for the conservation of butterflies, moths and their environment.

In terms of conservation initiatives, the principal areas of focus will be on:

a) Threatened species, b) key landscapes, c) widespread species and urban habitats, d) the evidence base (ie data, research), e) nature reserves and, f) capacity for conservation.
The Species Conservation web page includes a series of articles to illustrate various conservation actions and projects in progress.

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