Our city’s shared plan to tackle climate change


I’m a Butterfly, Get me out of here!!!

By Stephanie Lynch on 08.12.17


The UK’s climate is changing rapidly, whether we fully appreciate the magnitude of it or not. As humans, if we get too hot or too cold we can change the local environment around us to cope, such as by putting on a jumper or switching off the heating. Easy, right? Yet what do the cold-blooded residents of this country do to cope? Dr Anna Gilchrist of The University of Manchester, renowned for her research in natural and social sciences, recently presented ‘I am a Butterfly, get me out of here’ at Manchester Museum by request of The Linnean Society. Anna described it as a ‘great honour’ and she gave a clear and detailed overview of her research on some of the UK’s butterflies and the coping behaviours they are showing.

 It was evident that there was a clear North and South divide for the butterflies she researched, these included the Comma and the Orange Tip. These butterflies found the North too cold and so resided in the warmer South. Indeed they found it ‘grim up North’ as she said! Yet her research found that there have been more and more sightings of these butterflies beyond the divide, with evidence showing they had migrated as far as Scotland in a short period of time. This dramatic migration is likely driven by the sudden changes in temperate and Anna also explained that unpredictable weather such as frequent downpours also posed problems.

The migration routes of the butterflies were mapped, showing that natural corridors such as canals and railways were useful for some butterflies and how urbanisation including buildings and motorways also presented obstacles. She highlighted scenarios in which green bridges and other nature-based corridors would support butterfly and insect migration but the cost of these initiatives means they are very unlikely to ever become a reality.

Anna finished the lecture by underlining the benefits that greening cities have not only for butterflies but for climate change resilience and health, targets which are also detailed in the 2050 Climate Change strategy. She encouraged us all to get recording our sightings which can be sent to the Greater Manchester Record Centre as well as getting involved with greening projects throughout the city.

Manchester Climate Change Agency would like to congratulate Anna on her award for excellence in the field of butterfly research given to her by The Linnean Society.