Weather has butterflies and moths in a flap

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Butterflies and moths have been baffled by this year’s extreme weather, with many species appearing at unusual times, Butterfly Conservation said yesterday.

But while the hot, dry spring and one of the warmest autumns on record saw butterflies on the wing from early March to December, the cold damp summer saw many species struggle.

The charity’s Big Butterfly Count revealed numbers of common species were down 11 per cent in the face of a miserable summer.

The poor results followed the unusually hot spring, in which species such as the pearl bordered fritillary and the grizzled skipper emerged weeks early.

The black hairstreak, normally seen in June, appeared in May and the Lulworth skipper, a Dorset species, was on the wing seven weeks early.