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Wed, Feb

Erratic weather 'harms wildlife'

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UK wildlife is struggling to cope as erratic and unseasonal weather has taken its toll for a second consecutive year, the National Trust says. It says birds, mammals and particularly insects have all suffered from a cold, late spring, a wet summer with little sunshine and a long, dry autumn. The trust says species under threat include puffins, marsh fritillary butterflies and lesser horseshoe bats.

UK wildlife is struggling to cope as erratic and unseasonal weather has taken its toll for a second consecutive year, the National Trust says.

It says birds, mammals and particularly insects have all suffered from a cold, late spring, a wet summer with little sunshine and a long, dry autumn.

The trust says species under threat include puffins, marsh fritillary butterflies and lesser horseshoe bats.

They warned another wet summer in 2009 could be a disaster for insects.

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Studies of the past year by the trust's conservation experts show the impact of the weather and how some wildlife has become out-of-step with the usual seasonal patterns:

• Snowdrops and red admiral butterflies were first spotted in January, earlier than normal.

• Bees were hit hard in April by frost and snow

• Rain in late May caused many birds' nests to fail, including those of the blue and great tits, because of the lack of insect food

• It was a poor summer for migrant insects - butterflies, moths, hoverflies, ladybirds and dragonflies - because of the wet and cold June

• In July, puffin numbers on the Farne Islands were down 35% on what they had been five years earlier

• The common autumn cranefly, usually in pest proportions in September, was all but absent

Article Continues: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7800869.stm