Butterflies: The Next Endangered Pollinating Species

Butterfly Education and Awareness Day (BEAD) is celebrated on the first Saturday in June each year. This awareness day was declared by The Association of Butterflies (AFB) in an effort to raise public awareness about the benefits and importance of butterflies through research, conservation, education and support. The AFB believes that by creating an international day to celebrate butterflies, they can help to promote their importance as pollinators and as excellent teachers of metamorphosis.

Butterflies and moths are a highly diverse group that comprises of over 250,000 species, making up around one quarter of all named species. In the last 150 years, four butterfly and over sixty moth species have become extinct, with about three quarters of British butterflies in decline. Due to unprecedented environmental changes, the 56 species of butterflies in Britain and Ireland are now under threat. The unpredictable shift in climate and weather patterns caused by atmospheric pollution has led to the disappearance of these beautiful pollinators.

The government has recognised butterflies and moths as indicators of biodiversity, a healthy environment and a healthy ecosystem. Butterflies and moths collectively provide a range of environmental benefits like natural pest control and pollination. The UK has highlighted a list of species and habitats under grave threat based on their rarity and/or rate of decline. As part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), in 1995, the government published the first lists of these Priority Species and Habitats, which included 300 species, of which 11 were butterflies and 53 were moths. An updated list was then published in 2007, which included 24 butterflies and 150 moths. Further research and data contributions since have resulted in these numbers rising to 24 and 81 respectively, with a further 71 moths that have been listed as requiring urgent research.

So, what can we do to help raise awareness and conserve butterflies?

We can all start somewhere and do our bit to help raise awareness about these endangered species and make small but significant efforts to help conserve butterflies. Below is a list of creative and fun ideas to help make a change:

  • Garden for wildlife and plant a butterfly garden at home and/or in a public place for all to enjoy – check out Kabloom’s Pollinator Seedboms for Birds, Butterflies and Bees
  • Plan an activity related to butterflies and other pollinators in our ecosystem
  • Take a short field trip in nature to study the different butterfly-friendly plants out there
  • Educate your self and learn about the different species of British butterflies

In association with The Royal Entomological Society, KilckKlack Print have published a colouring-in book featuring beautiful illustrations and practical information on 32 of the UK’s most distinct butterfly species, ranging from garden favourites like the Peacock and Red Admiral to some of Britain’s most elusive species like the Swallowtail and Marsh Fritillary. The book includes an illustrated colour guide that helps you find the butterfly of your choice and select the essential colours to help you start colouring in. This book is printed on good quality paper, which makes it ideal for pencils, pens, pastels or paints. The rear of the book provides an index with a spotting area where you can list any sightings, and there is also an external resources section with useful links to help you learn more about your favourite butterfly. This book is not only great for learning more about British Butterflies, but also makes an ideal excuse to relax with a cuppa while colouring-in your favourite butterfly.

There are a variety of reasons highlighting the importance of butterflies and moths, and the conservation of these endangered species is crucial to the improvement of our environment, wildlife and the enrichment of the lives of the people, now and in the future.

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