As climate change takes root in New England, butterflies are taking wing earlier, new research led by a Boston University researcher shows.
By looking at ten short-lived butterfly species known as elfins and hairstreaks, the researchers found that the start of the butterfly flight period advances on average by two days for each degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature. The group, which included Massachusetts Butterfly Club, Hamilton and Boston colleges, examined over 5,000 records of butterflies in flight using museum collections and citizen science data from 1893 to 2009 to figure out how flight times are affected by temperature, rainfall, geographic location and year.
“Butterflies are very responsive to temperature in a way comparable to flowering times, leafing out times, and bee flight times,” says Richard Primack, professor of biology and study co-author.
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