Yesterday a scientific paper was published which asked whether the widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides were linked to the decline of a number of widespread butterflies. The neonicotinoid insecticides are already highly controversial as they have also been linked to the decline of bees. You can download and read the paper here.
The paper concludes “The declines in butterflies have largely occurred in England, where neonicotinoid usage is at its highest. In Scotland, where neonicotinoid usage is comparatively low, butterfly numbers are stable. Further research is needed urgently to show whether there is a causal link between neonicotinoid usage and the decline of widespread butterflies or whether it simply represents a proxy for other environmental factors associated with intensive agriculture.”
The study was conducted by academics from the Universities of Sterling and Sussex, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Butterfly Conservation. All very worrying – more research is clearly needed to untangle the story further.