Science & Environment

Wildlife 'thrived' in 2013 after hot summer

Tree bumble bee
The tree bumblebee was seen north of Hadrian's Wall for the first time

The hot summer in the UK provided a much-needed boost for wildlife with butterflies, moths and grasshoppers all thriving, the National Trust says.

The warm weather also led to an explosion of berries, nuts and seeds.

The trust's Matthew Oates said 2013 was "one of the most remarkable wildlife years in living memory".

But it said a cold, late spring meant badgers and hedgehogs did not have their usual quantity of worms, and some seabirds died from starvation.

'Real cracker'

Bees and crickets were among other winners.

The distinctive tree bumblebee - which only began to colonise in the UK 12 years ago - was seen north of Hadrian's Wall for the first time.

Many insects had been scarce last year because of poor weather.

The cool spring also provided a long flowering season for snowdrops, primrose and bluebells.

And in some places, there was an explosion of orchids.

Waxwing
Birders had a "deeply memorable" year with an abundance of species including the waxwing
Long-tailed blue butterfly
Sun-loving insects, such as the long-tailed blue butterfly fared well
Seven-spot ladybird
It was a poor year for seven-spot ladybirds, which feed on garden aphids

Mr Oates said: "We were more than overdue a good summer and eventually we got a real cracker, although it kicked in after the slowest of possible starts.

"The way our butterflies and other sun-loving insects bounced back in July was utterly amazing, showing nature's powers of recovery at their best."

Many birds and mammals had also recovered well from the cold spring, he said.

'Collect memories'

"Importantly, we have seen more winners than losers in our wildlife year, which is a tremendous result considering where we were last year."

He added; "For most specialist naturalists, such as birders and butterfliers, it became deeply memorable because naturalists, like many other people, collect memories."

But the extended cold period was a difficult time for breeding frogs and many mammals coming out of hibernation.

It was a poor year for garden aphids, as well as the seven-spot ladybirds and birds - including tits - which feed on them.

The number of slugs was also dramatically reduced - something many gardeners are unlikely to regret.

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