80% of butterflies have declined across the UK


Our butterflies are disappearing.

The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2022 report has revealed the alarming news that 80% of butterflies in the UK have declined since the 1970s.

Decreases in butterfly populations on this scale are a huge cause for concern as butterflies are an integral part of the UK ecosystem and their precipitous decline is a clear warning signal of the wider biodiversity crisis.

But it is not all bad news – the report also shows that our targeted conservation work is very effective at halting declines. Please consider donating so we can continue this vital work.


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Adonis Blue butterfly - Mark Searle

A decline in 80% of species since the 1970s

In the UK, long-term trends show that 80% of butterfly species have decreased in abundance or distribution, or both since the 1970s.

On average, UK butterflies have lost 6% of their total abundance at monitored sites and 42% of their distribution over the period 1976-2019.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Most habitat specialist species have declined dramatically

Most habitat specialist species, that is those restricted to particular habitats such as flower-rich grassland, heathland and woodland clearings, have declined dramatically in the UK. As a group, their abundance has decreased by over one-quarter (-27%) and their distribution by over two-thirds (-68%) since 1976.

Targeted Conservation

Targeted conservation action works

Our targeted conservation actions can turn around the fortunes of threatened butterflies at site, landscape and national levels. However, the resources currently available for such work are woefully inadequate to address the scale of the task and to stem the ongoing decline of the UK’s butterflies.

Recording and Monitoring

The recording and monitoring of UK butterflies is key

Butterfly Conservation uses millions of records to inform all of its research and recommendations. Increasing the recording and monitoring of the UK’s butterfly populations is vital to document wider biodiversity change, understand its causes, help develop and measure effective solutions, and to engage people in citizen science. 

"This report is yet more compelling evidence of nature’s decline in the UK. We are totally dependent on the natural world for food, water and clean air. The state of our species and habitats shows that the natural world is in trouble. We need swift and effective action on this. The decline in butterflies we have seen in our own lifetimes is shocking and we can no longer stand by and watch the UK’s biodiversity be destroyed."

Julie Williams, Chief Executive, Butterfly Conservation

Julie Williams

A focus on UK regions...

Wood White - Iain H Leach


Of the four UK countries, England’s butterflies have fared the worst, particularly those species that rely on specific habitat to thrive.

Dark Green Fritillary


Overall, 71% of butterflies in Wales have declined in abundance, distribution, or both, with those species that require specific habitats in order to thrive the worst affected.

White Letter Hairstreak


In Scotland, butterfly species that require specialist habitats have greatly declined, but the figures show increases too, as many countryside-wide species have increased.

Wall butterfly

Northern Ireland

The monitored species have shown a 17% decrease in abundance and a 10% decrease in distribution.

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What happens next is up to you...

Butterfly Conservation - Wild Spaces

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Comma - Mark Searle

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Butterfly Conservation knows what to do. Our conservation projects are successful at saving species, but we need your help to save them. Donate Now. This is an emergency.

Marbled White butterfly - Iain H Leach

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