Welcome to the Yorkshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation

Butterflies are not only beautiful and fascinating creatures but are also highly responsive to the environment. David Attenborough described them as 'A thermometer of the health of our natural world' Almost every species of butterfly is in decline and a quarter are facing extinction. We have lost more than 97% of our traditional meadows and woodland in recent times so it is crucial we raise awareness about the threats facing our butterflies, moths, their habitats and our natural environment. Yorkshire Branch work in partnership with land owners, local authorities, conservation bodies, businesses and the local community to achieve this.

Here in Yorkshire the Duke of Burgundy and Pearl Bordered Fritillary are particularly vulnerable due to habitat loss and increasingly susceptible to extinction. Yorkshire also has the only remaining colony of the Dark Bordered Beauty Moth in England, on Strensall Common and is on the brink of extinction.

Become a member today and help us save butterflies, moths and their habitats. There are many rewarding roles volunteering in recording and conservation just take a look at our Branch leaflet HERE . We have a real challenge when 60% of children in the UK have never seen a Peacock butterfly according to a YouGov Survey and 78% of parents are concerned that children don’t spend enough time interacting with nature. Founded in 1981 Yorkshire branch wil be 40 years old this year and has more than 1800 members.

Your Guide to the Website

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First Sightings

DECIDE is calling all Butterfly recorders. They have a new project running this summer exploring ways to provide personalised, relevant feedback to recorders

More info & sign up: https://decide.ceh.ac.uk/app/newsletter


15 August The Green Alliance publishs its 'Land of Opportunity' report on its approach to land usage in the UK and offers guidance to the forthcoming Government report due in 2023. It advocates a 3 'compartment' approach where marginal land should be given over to nature recovery and carbon capture, Yields be reduced on middle output land like the Cotswolds (Limestone) and Weald(Heavy Clay) with evidence graphics like the one below. High quality land has to be more sustainable through much greater innovation much like Horticulture has already achieved. Humans must move towards a low carbon diet by eating less meat. The National Food Stategy of 30% reduction in meat could have a dramatic affect on land use see below. The report's conclusions are spend at least a third of ELM budget on nature recovery . Target innovation to help sustainability of most productive land and acceleate local nature recovery on the medium yielding land to provide farmers with certainity of their future beyond the stewardship scheme. It makes interesting reading HERE

12th August Moth Tracked by Exeter University 80km in just 4 hours! Each year, trillions of insects make long-range seasonal migrations. These movements are relatively well understood at a population level, but how individual insects achieve them remains elusive. Menz et al. used micro-transmitters to track the flight of death’s-head hawkmoths that migrate between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. The Moths are fitted with the device weighing just 0.27 gm and measuring 11 x 5 x 2.8mm including its tiny battery and a 15cm antenna (See below) .With a life of 12 days and range of 15 miles tracking was in a light aircraft ; one transmitter was recovered from inside a bee hive, raided by the moth for honey. see Here and paper Here

5th August A second Clouded Yellow has been seen this year in Bishop Wood by Mark Tempest following one at Ecclesall in the Porter valley, Sheffield by Heather Clarke on 2nd August. 4 or5 Clouded Yellow have been seen in recent days coming north through Derbyshire. Areas of red clover are particularly attractive to this migrant.

2nd August The first genetic atlas of European and North African Butterfly species has been produced and will become a fanastic tool to exploring our ever changing butterflies. It covers 532 species of butterfly. Below shows the map for Northern Brown Argus and the different races that have evolved and haplotype network shows how they are related and the genetic diversity beyond species level shows how they are interelated . More HERE (warning 572 pages) Each circle on the map is a pie chart with segments corresponding to the number of samples with identical haplotype(genes) coloured as in the side diagram. It basiically shows the genetic assemblages and how closely they are related to each other. So English ones look closest to Eastern european ie Bulgaria but only two differences on the gene from the high Alps and 1 gene different from central Europe.

1st August. 1st Scotch Argus seen today at Park Rash just north of Kettlewell by Ian Blomfield.

29th July. A dull damp week but will it save 2023's butterflies? The south and east of england are still experiencing extreme drought and we are lucky we entered the year with full reservoirs or we would already be on hosepipe bans or worse. Our summer species have already laid most of 2023 eggs but what will those larvae find when they hatch in a week or so time? Those who remember 1977 know back then the heatwave continued till the last days of August and it was too late and a massive crash in lepidoptera populations resulted. Similarly in 1995 although the weather broke in mid August. We are also lucky we had those couple of inches of rain in late May which the south didnt and this pattern continues. If the plants in our hedgerows and grassalnds begin to recover then there is hope the effects will not be long term. For many of our scarcer species 1977 was the end of the line and they went extinct in close to 75% of sites and never returned. Species like Green-viened White, Ringlet and Speckled Wood are the most sensitive to dry conditions. More on the BC Blog HERE

Yorkshire Moths Website Returns Refreshed

The Yorkshire Moth Atlas has information on all the moths that occur or once occurred in Yorkshire, with distribution maps, photographs, descriptions, flight graphs, latest records and more. The Atlas contains over 3.3 million records of 671 species of macro-moth and 1117 species of micro-moth on display, with over 5,000 photographs. To date 1788 moth species have been recorded in Yorkshire since records began in the Victorian era. If you record moths in Yorkshire, please send us your records and put you own dots on the maps!

We are glad to welcome back the Yorkshire Moths website with lots of new functionality and a brand new look on the NOLA platform pioneered by Norfolk.

The website was made possible by funding provided through the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union Grant Scheme and we thank them enormously for supporting this project.. In addition, special thanks go to the following who made it possible: Jim Wheeler who created the site, Charles Fletcher for data provision and support throughout, Heather Dawe for data engineering, numerous volunteers who harvested information from the old site and finally to Terry Box, who sadly passed away earlier this year, for creation of the original site and for starting us upon transition to the new.

If you do notice anything on the website that’s not quite right, please contact Aidan at YorkshireMothsWebsite@gmail.com

Decision-making of citizen scientists when recording species observations

Citizen scientists play an increasingly important role in biodiversity monitoring. Most of the data, however, are unstructured—collected by diverse methods that are not documented with the data. Insufficient understanding of the data collection processes presents a major barrier to the use of citizen science data in biodiversity research. Respondents were most often motivated by improving species knowledge and supporting conservation, but there were no linkages between motivations and data collection methods. By contrast, variables related to experience and knowledge, such as membership of a natural history society, were linked with a greater propensity to conduct planned searches, during which typically all species were reported. Our findings have implications for how citizen science data are analysed in statistical models; highlight the importance of natural history societies

Motivations of respondents to collect species observation data. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of each item. Items are ordered in the plot by the % responding ‘important’ or ‘very important’.

Survey patterns: (a) the proportion of species observation data that are made by an active/planned search compared with observations that were opportunistic; (b) species that are reported during an active/planned search; (c) triggers of an opportunistic observation; (d) locations/habitats in which people actively look for species.