The science and social science of butterflies just gets better and better. Our love affair with these fickle sprites of the sunshine hours continually deepens. The more we learn about them, the more we discover and the more complex they become, and the more we are enthralled and entertained. This talk looks at all this, and more. Don’t expect dull statistics and the doom and gloom of biodiversity decline. This will be a riot of joy, wonder and humour. It will jump readily between the sciences (ecology) and arts (aesthetics), between the practical and the theoretical. The aim is to stimulate interest in our butterflies and the world they inhabit.
Matthew will talk about some of his favourite butterflies, notably the monarch of them all, the haughty and downright naughty Purple Emperor; will summarise what’s happening now in the world of British butterflies, and what the prospects for the future are (the impact of climate change, and much much more). All this is happening within the context of massive renewed interest in our natural world stimulated by, believe it or not, the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions – in which masses of people flocked to the Great Outdoors, and found considerable solace and belonging there.
Matthew Oates is a nature poet, writer and broadcaster who has dedicated his life to our butterflies. He writes regularly for the Nature Notebook column in The Times and is the author of In Pursuit of Butterflies (2015) and His Imperial Majesty, a natural history of the Purple Emperor (2020). For many years he has been one of the leading lights of the butterfly conservation movement, and is an acknowledged expert of grazing ecology, chalk downland management, and the ecology of several of our resident butterflies. At the same time, he is keenly interested in the metaphysics of our relationship with butterflies.
photo By Charlie Jackson - Purple Emperor, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67448863