Climate Changes Could Wipe Out UK Butterflies

Scientists are predicting that by the year 2050, climate changes could wipe out widespread drought-sensitive UK butterfly populations. Six butterfly species face extinction if climate changes aren’t addressed immediately, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change.

Climate changes have occurred because of carbon emissions from power stations and vehicles, and scientists are working to find ways of bringing the release of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases under control. Caterpillars are likely to be impacted the most by the climate change. The caterpillars feed on plants, and when the plants dry out, the larval butterflies either die or their growth is stunted.

Here are the six UK butterflies that are at risk.

Carbon Whites

Large Skipper Butterfly (Ochlodes Sylvanus)

Ringlet Butterfly (Aphantopus Hyperantus)

Large White or Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris Brassicae)

SmallWhite_Jim Asher.jpg

Green-Veined White Butterfly (Pieris Napi)

Speckled Wood Butterfly (Pararge Aegeria)

Butterflies play a vital role in helping to pollinate our crops and scientists have found that some butterfly species have already moved from their habitats because of the increased temperatures due to climate changes. Butterfly habitats have become increasingly irregular in appearance and widely spread out because of human land use.

Tom Oliver, lead author of the study and an ecological modeler at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, and other researchers are worried that butterflies won’t be able to adapt quick enough to sustain the species because of frequent droughts caused by the climate change. It is likely that other species, besides just the butterflies, will be affected by changes in the climate. Scientists say that beetles, dragonflies, moths, and even birds could be affected as well and see numbers decline. If numbers in beetles, moths, and other wildlife occurs, scientists say it could have an alarming impact on our environment.

“Landscape management offers the best solution to preventing extinctions among drought-sensitive species,” the researchers concluded in their paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Giving the butterflies larger areas of habitat provides them more options for survival by providing them opportunity to connect with other butterfly populations and the chance to gather nectar from different plants in cooler and wetter regions.

What can we do to help? Conserving energy on an everyday basis is essential to the environment and to helping control the climate changes. Scientists say if we work at rebuilding butterfly habitats and connect the habitats to each other, the butterfly survival rate raises between 6 and 42 percent. Let’s help save these beautiful UK creatures by doing our part to control climate changes.

[Image via Shutterstock]