Britain’s butterflies were on the wing earlier than ever before this spring following a warm April, a wildlife charity has said.

The conservation experts believe the long-term trend is being driven by climate change, and has been accelerated this year by an exceptionally warm and sunny April.

Dr Tom Brereton, head of monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, said that in addition to the first butterflies being spotted earlier in recent years, numbers were also peaking earlier as the whole life cycle shifted forward in the year.

Butterfly Conservation’s chief executive Dr Martin Warren said: “2011 is breaking a lot of records for the earliest sightings of many butterflies.

“This is almost certainly to do with the very hot dry spring.

“Many of the butterflies we’ve already seen will be having second broods – which means there could be a profusion of butterflies in July and August.”

He added that Butterfly Conservation was hoping to get as many people as possible involved in its annual national Big Butterfly Count next month, which would help scientists determine exactly what is happening to Britain’s butterflies.

via The Telegraph 07 Jun 2011