Nicole Baddeley

More than two-fifths of British butterflies are threatened with extinction, with experts warning that action is needed to prevent species being lost.

The latest Red List for British butterflies shows a worsening picture for many species as climate change and nitrogen pollution pile on the pressure for insects already struggling with changes to landscapes, they said.

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation said there was better news for some of Britain’s most at-risk species such as the large blue and high brown fritillary, which are no longer critically endangered as a result of concentrated conservation work.

But half of British butterflies are on the Red List for Great Britain, classed as either threatened or near threatened.

Four species of the 62 assessed are already regionally extinct, and 24 of the remaining 58 – or 41% – are threatened with extinction, classed as either endangered or vulnerable to being lost from Britain.

A further five species are classed as near threatened, according to the Red List.

Scientists from Butterfly Conservation used data gathered by volunteers through recording schemes to assess all the butterflies that have bred regularly in Britain against extinction criteria set out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The situation has deteriorated since the last Red List assessment in 2011, with five more species threatened with extinction – a 26% increase – including some which are widespread or common in the countryside.

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