Spring is starting earlier because of climate change, landmark 50-year study finds
Experts fear shift could have far-reaching effects for farming and other industries in the natural world
Climate change is causing spring to arrive earlier in the UK, causing disruption to natural life cycles which could make food more expensive, according to a landmark 50-year study.
Aphids, moths, butterflies and birds are laying eggs up to a month earlier than they did in the mid-20th century, the study of the seasonal habits of more than 250 species found.
In the north, butterflies become active earlier in the warmer, wetter west than the colder, drier east, but the team documented the opposite for birds laying eggs.
Many plants and animals use temperature to time breeding and migration, which are both associated with the onset of spring.
The disruption to these natural cycles could threaten the survival of some animals by putting them “out of sync” with the appearance of their prey, the research concluded.
After analysing data that stretches back to 1960, it predicted we may see the number of insects plummet as they cannot feed on the plants they need to sustain them.
In addition, it could damage the production of food by making certain crops more vulnerable to pests and the final crop more expensive for consumers.
Lead author Dr James Bell, who heads up the Rothamsted Insect Survey, told The Independent: “Due to the wet spring, farmers are not able to move their heavy machinery on to waterlogged fields to plant potatoes, so they are planting later.