Fewer butterflies were recorded on Bricket Wood Common than would have been expected in a long hot summer, according to a new report.

Bricket Wood Common is one of the sites included in the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.

Since 1997, weekly observations have been made along a standardised route, between April and September.

Because butterflies are sun-loving creatures, the latest annual report says that long hot summers are usually associated with big increases in their numbers.

But the report – presented to the Bricket Wood Common Management Committee on Tuesday – shows no dramatic increase during the summer of 2018.

According to The Butterflies of Bricket Wood Common Annual Report 2018, Meadow Browns were the most recorded species – with 650 sightings last summer.

That’s the highest number of Meadow Browns ever recorded at Bricket Wood Common as part of the monitoring scheme – and the species accounted for four out of every 10 butterflies recorded.

There were also 17 sightings of the rare Brown Argus, which had not been spotted on the common for the previous three years.

And there was reported to be a significant increase – 800 per cent – in the number of Large Whites too.

However the report highlights other species – including Small and Essex Skippers, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Purple Emperor, Marbled White and Small Heath – that were down in number or not spotted at all.

It suggests that in some cases cattle left on the common too long resulted in damage to both caterpillars and wild flowers.

Excessive mowing, it says, has removed a large quantity of bramble, which is a valuable nectar source.

And it suggests removal of some of the larger trees is now required to reverse the steady decline of habitat.

“Overall, not such good butterfly numbers as would be expected in a long hot summer,” says the report.

“Management of this site is complex because of the different types of habitat and number of different parties involved.

“There is room for improvements to the habitat quality, which will benefit many other species, not just butterflies.

“We will continue our efforts to work with all involved to help improve wildlife habitats on this special site.”

The observations at Bricket Wood Common were made by volunteers from the Herts and Middx branch of Butterfly Conservation.