UK butterfly population has been cut in HALF over the past 45 years

Butterflies are without a doubt one of the most beautiful insects in the UK, but a worrying new study has found that their numbers are dwindling.

The research reveals that the UK butterfly population has been cut in half over the past 45 years.

Worryingly, almost one in ten British butterfly species has become extinct due to meadow destruction, meaning the loss of key food sources and breeding grounds for the insects.

Thankfully, experts believe there is still time for British butterfly populations to recover, should their natural habitats be properly restored. 

Worryingly, almost one in ten British butterfly species has become extinct due to meadow destruction, including the Black-veined White (pictured)

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Worryingly, almost one in ten British butterfly species has become extinct due to meadow destruction, including the Black-veined White (pictured)

WHICH BUTTERFLIES CAN BE FOUND IN THE UK? 

The UK has 59 species of butterflies – 57 resident species of butterflies and two regular migrants – the Painted Lady and Clouded Yellow.

Five species of butterfly have become extinct in the last 150 years. 

These are the Mazarine Blue, Large Tortoiseshell, Black-veined White, Large Copper and Large Blue. (Large Blue was successfully reintroduced in 1992)

Source: Butterfly Conservation

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In the study, researchers from Butterfly Conservation Europe reviewed changes in the status of butterflies in Europe, focusing on long-running population data available for the UK.

Their analysis revealed that almost one in ten butterfly species in the UK has become extinct.

In the study, published in PNAS, the researchers, led by Martin Warren, wrote: 'In the United Kingdom, 8% of resident species have become extinct, and since 1976 overall numbers declined by around 50%.'

The first butterfly extinctions took place in the 1850s, when several species lost their habitats in favour of agricultural land.

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Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Warren explained: 'Most grassland has now been re-seeded with perennial ryegrass because it's more productive for the animals. And it doesn't have wildflowers in it. It looks nice at a

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